This BMW is tight, snug and worth the splurge

The Washington Post Sunday - - CARS THE CAR PAGES - war­ren.brown@wash­post.com

It is a com­pact sportu­til­ity ve­hi­cle, eas­ily mis­taken for a high­rid­ing sedan. In any case, it is a mo­tor­ized de­light — big enough to carry a fam­ily of five and a week’s worth of their gro­ceries, small enough to fit into ur­ban street park­ing spots, fast and smooth enough to turn a long high­way trip into a plea­sure.

I wanted to drive it all year, but that is not the way this busi­ness works. At the end of an al­lot­ted week, I had to re­turn this star of an in­creas­ingly crowded field, the BMW X1 xDrive28i com­pact SUV.

I wish it came with a lower pur­chase price. It doesn’t. As equipped, com­plete with driver as­sis­tance and a “pre­mium” pack­age that in­cludes lum­bar sup­port and power-fold­ing mir­rors, the pur­chase price is $46,320. That is steep. But it is easy to un­der­stand why its buy­ers are will­ing to pay it.

The X1 all-wheel-drive SUV ac­tu­ally feels as if it is worth it. It is a tight, snug ve­hi­cle — largely based on the plat­form of the Mini Cooper, which is owned by BMW.

Maybe that is why I like it so much. I owned a Mini and loved it, too, un­til years (four) and miles (ap­prox­i­mately 150,000) be­gan to de­te­ri­o­rate its body.

The X1 is a Mini on steroids — equipped with all-wheel drive, with hill-de­scent con­trol; an ar­ray of ad­vanced elec­tronic safety items; and a 2.0-liter tur­bocharged, four-cylin­der gaso­line en­gine that de­liv­ers 228 horse­power and 258 pound-feet of torque.

Note: You’ve got to be care­ful in or­der­ing the driver as­sis­tance pack­age. There are two: Driver As­sis­tance One, which in­cludes items such as a rearview cam­era and front and rear park­ing sen­sors, and Driver As­sis­tance Plus, which in­cludes the very use­ful for­ward-col­li­sion mit­i­ga­tion sys­tem.

You’ll pay more for Driver As­sis­tance Plus. But it could turn out to be money you and your fam­ily will save in hos­pi­tal bills.

There are cer­tain things about a mo­tor ve­hi­cle that let you know its mak­ers cared about what they were do­ing. Those sig­nals are all over the BMW X1, in­tro­duced in 2016 and prac­ti­cally un­changed for the 2017 model year. Fit and fin­ish are ex­cel­lent — no un­fin­ished plas­tic parts with sharp edges, no sun vi­sors with loosely fit­ting roof at­tach­ments, no er­rors any­where.

The way the X1 is made makes you be­lieve in the ve­hi­cle, makes you trust it, frees you from po­ten­tial buyer’s — ex­pen­sive, al­beit the least costly in BMW’s line of SUVs.

It is like driv­ing a per­pet­u­ally sharp­ened pen­cil — smooth, pre­cise, goes ex­actly where you point it.

There are three driv­ing modes: Eco Pro, Com­fort and Sport. Eco Pro will de­liver 31 miles per gal­lon on the high­way. Com­fort will do about the same thing. Sport con­sumes more fuel but of­fers more speed and sharper han­dling — and in­creases your prospects of get­ting a traf­fic ticket.

The way the X1 is made frees you from po­ten­tial buyer’s re­morse.

MATTIAS HARGIN/BMW

War­ren Brown ON WHEELS

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