BMW X1: What to Expect as the Competition Sharpens

The next-generation BMW X1 shows more refinement. But the crossover competition from Mercedes and Audi is gaining on it. BMW has raised the bar on three fronts: crossover comfort, road experience, and utility and technology features. The big question is competition driving their updates, or if BMW is leading the way with their innovations. There's a lot of focus on infotainment technology and advanced safety features in crossover models, and BMW is adding a plug-in hybrid model to the line.


Will the 2019 changes be obvious on arrival, or under the hood and inside the cabin?

Trim is definitely getting an update in the new X1. New headlights, bumpers, graphics, and grille will add energy to the vehicle's look. Observations in Munich include a new, bolder chrome grille, new taillight graphics, and updated front and rear bumpers.


What about the new digital instrument cluster? Will it be included?

Speculation says it's possible, though this feature is first destined for the 7 series, 8 series, and X7. The display integrates navigation data and selected driving parameters for driver-specific information flow. Context-sensitive data provides information on parking at the driver's destination, and overall the traditional instrument-scan procedure where drivers' eyes traverse the dash for a full update is being replaced by focused, carefully placed high-density information for at-a-glance updates.


What other features are headed to the center console?

A more performance-oriented user experience design adds touch controls with more intuitive flow to the center display, simplifying and distributing content over up to ten pages and cutting out submenus. Additional control methods such as iDrive controller, voice or gesture command are being added and, ahead of the curve, fast 5G connectivity is on the way.


What other future technologies may not make 2019, but are on the way?

HD data flow enabled by 5G is on the way in a few years, and improvements in vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology is making the roads safer when exceptional conditions occur such as weather or accidents. This communication channel will also be able to carry alerts about emergency equipment trying to navigate traffic and emergency braking taking place in the vehicles ahead. These are likely to trickle down from high-end models to the X1 over the coming years.


So, is waiting for 2020 a better strategy?

Details vary, but the consensus is that 2019 is a rebuilding year for the X1 while higher-end models receive significant updates. In addition to front and rear external detail updates, infotainment system upgrades and interior comfort features are being reported. Tech upgrades in coming years will echo the electronics industry -- there's always a desirable new model around the corner, but you have to make a choice at some point and let it ride for a few years.


What drivetrains may the X1 offer?

The X1 gets 228 horsepower out of a 2.0-liter gas engine and may offer a plug-in hybrid engine on some X1 models.


What are the driving assistance packages which are likely to carry over to the 2019 model?

Features such as City Collision Mitigation and Pedestrian Detection will augment the Driving Assistance package from a highway-cruising suite of alerts and assists to a city-center awareness system which helps navigate the tight flow of vehicles, pedestrians and everything in between which constitutes modern urban traffic. Combined with effective point-to-point navigation features, drivers who need to perform city driving with precision will appreciate the X1's current abilities.


What about handling?

The X1 suspension provides dynamic tuning from city driving to winding mountain roads, correcting for oversteer and understeer and presenting a driving experience which sets the bar for Audi and Mercedes. This will be an important area of differentiation in the model years to come: offering a driving and ride experience which neutralizes variations in terrain and road surface quality.


Why are reports of 2019 X1 tests coming in from around the world?

From China to Munich and even in India, camouflaged X1 vehicles are being spotted as they go through their paces on the world's roads. As a crossover or Sport Activity Vehicle as BMW calls it, the X1 is being prepared for a worldwide driving audience which doesn't always have the need or resources for larger models. With Audi and Mercedes addressing this global market, the coming years should be exciting for the X1.

Get the latest vehicle news, advice & deals.