The 2024 X1 M35i xDrive houses BMW’s most powerful factory-produced four-cylinder engine to date. Rated at 312 horsepower and 295 pound-feet, this 2.0-liter turbocharged definitely punches above its weight class, but—in my best Jerry Seinfeld impression—what’s the deal with the “35i” designation?
In comparison to the last three 3 Series’ sixes—say that three times fast—a 2015 335i’s 3.0-liter turbocharged six (N55) was rated at 300 horsepower, a 2018 340i’s 3.0-liter turbocharged six (B58B30M0) was rated at 320 horsepower, and a current 340i’s engine (B58B30O1) of the same size and layout makes 382 horsepower. So, given BMW’s naming conventions, which at one point was based on actual engine displacement and then transitioned to what they call “virtual displacement,” the new X1 M35i is aptly designated given that it makes more power than the outgoing 335i. Makes perfect sense, right? Riiight.
In addition to making as much power as previous generations of BMW’s turbocharged sixes, the four also builds on tech originally developed for the sixes. BMW says, “Among the 2.0-liter unit’s M-specific highlights are a new, stronger crankshaft, an optimized oil supply system for the pistons with cooling channels, and main bearing shells and caps carried over from the latest-generation six-cylinder engines. It is also equipped with VANOS variable camshaft timing with optimized oil supply for the actuator and VALVETRONIC fully variable valve timing.”
It’s not only a strong power plant, it’s also quick when paired with a limited-slip-equipped seven-speed double-clutch Steptronic transmission, propelling the 3,790-pound X1 to 60 in 5.2 seconds. For a little extra “umph,” the BMW’s M division has included M Sport Boost, which BMW describes as “available for situations in which rapid bursts of speed are required. When the driver pulls and holds the left-hand shift paddle for at least one second, all the powertrain and chassis systems are switched to their sportiest setting.” Could we get that with voice activation? You know, like when The Hoff requests “turbo boost” from KITT.
With an “M” in the model’s name, the X1 needs to handle well in addition to being quick, so the M Division went to work. The model’s Adaptive M suspension “offers comfortable response when absorbing minor bumps in the road surface combined with sporty damper characteristics in dynamic driving situations,” according to BMW. And the now-standard sport steering “pairs Servotronic speed-sensitive power assistance with a very direct rack ratio.”
Paired with the mechanical limited slip differential in the transmission, BMW’s near-actuator wheel slip limitation technology integrates further traction control into the X1’s engine management. Why the direct integration instead of a separate DSC module? BMW says, “This eliminates the long signal paths to the DSC control unit, meaning that the corrective inputs are applied up to ten times faster than in conventional systems and with exceptional precision.”
The icing on the X1’s performance-oriented cake are optional M Compound brakes. This is the first M Performance model to offer the brake upgrade, normally only reserved for true M models. It comprises “four-piston, fixed-caliper brakes with 15.2-inch drilled discs at the front wheels and single-piston, floating-caliper units with integrated parking brake and 13.0-inch discs at the rear,” per BMW.
The exterior reflects the M35i’s performance-oriented nature, with more aggressive aero, larger front intakes for engine, transmission, and brake cooling, and quad exhaust pipes out back to let everyone know this model means business. The grill, side skirts, mirror caps, and rear bumper also benefit from the M treatment. The M Sport Professional Package adds extended Shadowline exterior trim a well as M Shadowline headlights.
M Sport seats hold everyone in place for those spirited drives, with a number of M touches throughout the rest of the interior. BMW lists the other updates to include, “Alcantara-trimmed instrument panel, Aluminum Hexacube Dark interior trim elements, an anthracite-colored headliner, M door sill trim, M pedals, the M-specific graphics of the BMW Curved Display – and, optionally, the BMW Head-Up Display – and an M leather steering wheel with shift paddles.”
One of the larger updates is BMW’s Operating System 9, where subscription services are becoming more prevalent. Talk of “subscription models” caused quite a stir last year, and the X1 is the first vehicle from BMW to feature this updated OS9 user experience. BMW describes the upcoming subscription service, saying “BMW Operating System 9 lays the groundwork for a highly customizable selection of additional digital services. The new BMW Digital Premium offering gives customers access to an expanded BMW ConnectedDrive Store. This means they can use all the apps for music streaming, news or gaming, on a subscription basis. Customers can choose from monthly or annual payment plans, both of which provide maximum flexibility when putting together a selection of digital services tailored to their personal requirements.”
If you’re looking for a mid-size aggressively styled performance crossover SUV, all in a package with a roof line that doesn’t sacrifice utility and rear passenger headroom for aesthetic design choices—we’re looking at you X4/X6—the 2024 X1 M35i xDrive may be just the ticket. Of course, tickets aren’t free and this one happens to cost $49,900 plus $995 destination and handling. Look for an October 2023 launch in the US. —Mike Bevels
[Photos by BMW.]