2016 BMW X1
The BMW X1 was a true, early entry into the subcompact luxury crossover segment. But as is often the case, those that quickly follow are able to use your blueprint and improve upon it. Thus a new X1 has now been unleashed on the entry-level luxury loving streets of upscale suburbia. But there’s more new here than meets the eye.
The 2016 BMW X1 may not look all that unique from its predecessor; but it is indeed vastly different, riding on all-new architecture, and a front-wheel-drive based one at that.
Surely blasphemy to the BMW faithful. It’s all about baby steps, folks. BMW has already gotten you addicted to their SUVs, and now they slip in the front-drive architecture.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the reasons for that change; to drive costs down thanks to platform sharing with MINI, while bringing interior space up.
And there is indeed more room, especially in the back seat; but don’t expect midsize space here, it still feels smallish.
There’s also a bit more cargo space, climbing from 25.0 to 27.1 cubic-ft.; accessed by a standard power lift gate. Hands free operation is an option making the X1 a much more practical vehicle.
And we do like our practicality, as does BMW; giving us functionality plusses like the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats that slide and recline; as well as fold almost fully flat to expand the space to 58.7 cubic-ft.
All of the additional space wasn’t really a necessity, but it is much appreciated, making the X1 one of the roomiest in its class; now just about the perfect size for families either starting out or nearing the empty nester phase.
Still, the X1 retains that intimate feel that we love in a BMW, being surrounded by a luxury-clad, competently sporty vehicle. And not only are all materials inside improved, but everything seems more upscale in operation.
Well, everything except the front seats, that is. They are small, narrow, and uncomfortable almost to the point of being a deal breaker. And you definitely want to think twice about seats this light in color if kids are in your foreseeable future.
The X1 is initially available only in a single xDrive28i model. So despite a front-drive type chassis, it comes standard with all-wheel drive. As does an 8-speed automatic transmission and 18-inch wheels. Plenty of add-ons like head-up display and advanced safety features are available.
Though I6 power is offered no more; only a 2.0-liter turbo I4. Still, 228–horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque easily puts it among class best.
We tried to make it sweat, but it responded by continuously delivering smooth and buzz-free trips to 60 in 6.3-seconds. It’s quite torquey off the line, with some front wheel spin before the rears kick in to compensate.
Gear changes were quick and firm, accompanied by a nice exhaust rasp throughout the 14.8-second ¼-mile run, which we completed at 94 miles-per-hour.
Even with the shift to a front-drive chassis, handling remains very rear-drive BMW-like. That’s not a big surprise, since this platform already deals out plenty of fun in the MINI Cooper. And, with all-wheel drive standard, it’s almost a guarantee that most buyers will not be able to tell the switch in chassis design.
Though we certainly could sense some additional understeer; body roll was kept well in check.
111–foot average stops from 60 is certainly not bad either, but braking performance was not quite up to the par we had in mind. Stops were inconsistent and the pedal felt soft with a fair amount of travel.
The X1 does appear more SUVish than before, and much better looking overall. But like most of the European crossover entries in this segment, still a little too “wagony” for our tastes.
Most every dimension has increased, except for length; minus-1 overall, while the wheelbase shrinks by 3½-inches to 105.1.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 22-City, 32-Highway, and 26-Combined. Our average was just 24.8 miles-per-gallon of Premium. Still, that makes for a better than average Energy Impact Score of 12.7-barrels of annual oil use with 5.7-tons of CO2 emissions.
X1 base pricing is a reasonable $35,795; but you can easily tack on another 10-grand in optional packages.
Oddly enough, going against just about everything BMW stands for, has made the 2016 BMW X1 one of our favorite BMWs; especially if you look at is as a sporty 5-door, not as an entry-level crossover.
It may not be the most capable or comfortable mini-ute on the market, but as you can expect, it’s one of the most fun. BMW has addressed anything we didn’t like before, as well as taken almost everything that we did like about the previous gen X1 and made it better. And most importantly, given us more of it.
- Engine: 2.0 liter Turbo I4
- Horsepower: 228
- Torque: 258 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 6.3 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 14.8 seconds @ 94 mph
- EPA: 22 mpg city/ 32 mpg highway
- Energy Impact: 12.7 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 5.7 tons/yr
- Transmission: 8 spd automatic
Still The Same Mazda3, Just A Bit Better
When the fourth-gen Mazda3 arrived for 2019, it grew a little more stylish, a lot more upscale; and loads more practical too, adding all-wheel drive into the mix for the first time. How does it get better than that? Well, for ’23 the 3 adds an engine update that promises to deliver more power and better efficiency. Time to speak truth to this power.
The Mazda3 has always been a great compact car, big on both fun and value, and has earned numerous MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards over the years. This current-gen has been on the road for 4-years now, and it gets even better for 2023.
Starting with the powertrain, the base 2.0-liter I4 has been eliminated leaving just 2 versions of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, turbo and non-turbo. Base versions get a 5-horsepower bump to 191-horsepower, along with updates for its cylinder deactivation system. The 2.5 Turbo fits standard all-wheel drive and outputs the same 250-horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque as last year; provided you use Premium gas. Max ratings drop to 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. with Regular.
A 6-speed manual transmission remains available in front-wheel drive 3s, but AWDs come exclusively with a sport-tuned 6-speed automatic. We found it well-sorted and seemingly always on the same page as us whether we were shuffling through back roads or sitting in traffic. There is a softer overall feel compared to Mazda3s of old, which you’ll appreciate when encountering harsh pavement, but it still feels plenty agile when called upon.
That softer feel certainly carries over inside, where it has gotten much quieter, and quite nicely finished, consistent with Mazda’s Audi-like premium intentions. All 3s get an 8.8-inch center display, and all of the fingerprints on our test car’s screen signifies most people assume it’s a touchscreen. It’s not, however, as inputs are made with a rotary controller on the console. It’s not the most intuitive system, but once you’re past the learning curve, it’s tolerable.
The rear seat room doesn’t have the roomy feel of the Subaru Impreza, but space is certainly more than adequate compared to the rest of the compact set. Rear cargo space for this hatchback rates a good 20.1 cubic-ft. with trunk space in the sedan coming in at 13.2 cubic-ft. So yes, the Mazda3 remains available in both sedan and hatchback, but we still prefer the 5-door hatch both for its practicality and for its sporty looks. Top Turbo Premium Plus gets gloss black aero treatments including a roof spoiler and front air dam.
At the test track, power from the 2.5-turbo felt more than adequate off the line, using all-wheel-drive grip to bite into the pavement and get up and go to 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. There was virtually no turbo lag, and the engine felt nicely refined with its power delivery. Transmission operation was equally as smooth and kept the power flowing quite effectively throughout the ¼-mile, which ended in 14.5-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. We really appreciate a well-tuned 6-speed in this world of overactive 8 and 10 speed automatics.
While there was definitely some understeer to manage in our handling course, the 3 turned in quickly and provided real, sporting feedback through our cone course. I-Activ AWD features G-Vectoring Control Plus, which uses both engine torque vectoring as well as selective braking to minimize body roll, and preserve the lively feel we’ve come to expect from Mazda. In panic braking runs, the pedal was soft, but that kept ABS pulsing to a minimum; and the results were great, as we averaged a very short 106-feet from 60, with minimal nose dive and stable, straight stops.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an all-wheel drive Turbo are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; we averaged a good 28.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Obviously by eliminating the previous base engine, prices have taken a jump for ’23, but so has everything else. Still they remain more than reasonable. The base S now starts at $26,855, with the top Turbo Premium Plus at $37,815, with many options in between. And sedan prices are even more sensible, starting at $23,715.
Like most brands, Mazda seems to be going all-in on SUVs; as the 3 is the last family sedan and hatchback in their lineup. And it would be a real shame if that were to change. As the 2023 Mazda3, the hatchback in particular, is just about the perfect car, offering utility vehicles levels of practicality along with better than average luxury, plus handling performance that few crossovers can match. So, long live the Mazda3!
- Engine: 2.5-liter Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 227 | 250
- 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 106 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 28.4 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 6-speed auto
- Torque: 310 lb-ft. | 320 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 14.5-seconds at 95 mph
- EPA: 23-City / 31-Highway / 26-Combined