We’ve spent an enormous amount of time in the previous X1 and its close cousins the MINI Clubman and MINI Countryman. While the X1 was decent take on a front-wheel drive BMW crossover, it did little to excite it and was often overshadowed by the smaller and lighter MINI Clubman and Countryman. Now BMW is back with an all-new X1 that turns up the design, quality and performance making it one of the most dramatic generational improvements we’ve seen in years.

For the first time since the original, 3 Series based X1, we have something that feels closer to what you’d expect from the Roundel. In fact rarely have we seen such a dramatic increase in design, quality and performance from one generation to the next.

The BMW X1 28i is offered with the familiar 241 hp, 295 lbs of torque B48 four cylinder turbo. That propels the car from 0-60 in 6.2 seconds – a respectable number but one that will improve with the forthcoming M40i model our sources have informed us about.

Unlike the previous X1, xDrive is standard and is offered exclusively with a 7 speed dual clutch transmission. In our time with the car the DCT felt both quicker and overall smarter than the previous Aisin sourced 8 speed auto. Shifts were less noticeable which helps the entire package feel a bit more refined.

2023 BMW X1 28i

One area that is particularly improved is the steering and suspension tuning. In Comfort the steering resistance is noticeably lighter than before to the point of being surprising at first. The X1 we tested at the Adaptive M Suspension which has more range than before. In Comfort the ride is compose but focused on exactly what you’d expect – comfort. In Sport however the X1 comes alive with an heavier steering that feels artificial but does provide positive feedback to the point that you can place the car with trust anywhere in a corner. Along with the hardware and tuning, the .8″ wider track is certainly a part of that. There’s precision here that surprised us and is a clear step forward from the previous X1. The Sport suspension is also a noticeable improvement with better body control and less lean while being no more harsh over expansion joins or rough pavement. In fact with the one inch longer wheelbase it feels more refined and comfortable even in sport than the previous X1.

2023 BMW X1 28i

BMW Makes Some Major Changes to Standard Equipment

The X1 28i comes standard with BMW’s excellent all wheel drive system xDrive and for the first time in the US. Dynamic Cruise control and Navigation are standard along with wireless CarPlay and Android Auto.

SensaTec is the only interior material available as BMW has quietly eliminated leather from the X1’s ordering books. While that may sound like a downgrade, BMW’s latest version of SensaTec is a clear step-up and feels better to the touch than mid-grade leather the X1 had before. It will also surely be more durable.

The X1 comes with 18″ wheels as standard but can be optioned with 19″ and 20″. And finally BMW is offering an optional trailer hitch with a towing rating of 3500 lbs. Expect this option to be available next year.

All of these changes serve to position the X1 better against its less premium rivals in the US while increasing both the quality and driving experience.

2023 BMW X1 28i – First Drive Conclusions

While the 2023 BMW X1 isn’t going to get enthusiasts hearts racing like a 3 Series wagon it is a material improvement over what came before it. In this redesign BMW has brought this 3rd generation X1 closer to the rest of the BMW crossover range in design, material quality and performance. Everything from the proportions to the technology to the material quality has been improved. Even the feel, feedback and overall driving engagement has been noticeably improved over it’s predecessor. 

Couple that with the impactful changes in standard equipment and optional equipment and you have a $38,600 that’s genuinely appealing from a driver’s perspective.