BMW’s LWB plug-in SUV for the Chinese market

BMW fired the first shot of a new war against Audi and Mercedes when it introduced the X1 in 2009 as its entry-level and resident mini SUV. Audi and Mercedes quickly returned fire, launching the Audi Q3 and the Mercedes GLA. Fast forward to 2016 and we still find the Q3, GLA, and X1 duking it out, but the X1 evolved into a second-generation model for 2016. With China being a pretty big market for BMW, and let’s not forget the Chinese love for long-wheelbase cars, it came as no surprise that the 2017 model year comes with an X1 LWB. In base form, it is powered by a 1.5-liter three-cylinder with a measly 136 horsepower, but it does come with a somewhat premium interior to go with some sport exterior looks – for a small SUV anyway. Like all other LWB models from BMW, the car was practically the same inside and out in comparison to is shorter brother, but that’s about to change a little bit as BMW has just announced an electrified X1 LWB that borrows a drivetrain from its cousin, the 225xe Active Tourer.

I know, that sounds like a mouthful, and let’s be honest, the name is ridiculously long, but it does speak to the electric nature of China’s latest plug-in hybrid model. While I advise you not to get your hopes up for any big styling differences, as there are none, the electrified drivetrain promises excellent fuel economy while the innovative battery location prevents any major loss to interior space or comfort. On top of that, it comes with a little extra power and technically it has all-wheel drive as well, thanks to the addition of that electric motor. So with that said, let’s revisit to overall styling of the X1 LWB and talk more about this hybrid drivetrain that turns the wheels and gets you from point A to point B.

Continue reading to learn more about the BMW X1 xDrive25Le iPerformance.

Exterior

The X1 got an all new look for 2016, which also carried over to the LWB model for 2017. To put it simply, the X1 LWB is 3.1-inches longer that the standard model, with the extra space added between the boot and the front doors. This, naturally, made for a more spacious and inviting rear cabin area, which is apparently where the Chinese love to spend their time. Nothing says luxury like riding in the backseat of your own car. I mean, after all, Bentley and Rolls-Royce owners have been doing it for years.

The X1 LWB is 3.1-inches longer that the standard model, with the extra space added between the boot and the front doors.

As usual, the exterior features the standard BMW quad headlights and that kidney bean grille. The front fascia is somewhat aggressive given the car’s position in BMW’s X lineup. On the sides, there is a powerful body line that crosses the door handles and a mellower accent line down between the wheel wells. The rear of the X1 is mildly attractive, but it’s nothing new for BMW and is a somewhat dated look that has been gently updated with new styling cues.

In short, the only difference you’ll find on the xDRive25Le iPerformance is the charging port. It has an access door that resembled that of a fuel fill door and is located on the front left fender, just ahead of the door. But, since there’s not really much else to talk about here, let’s move on to other sections of the car.

Interior

2016 BMW X1 High Resolution Interior
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Note: 2016 BMW X1 interior shown here.

According to BMW, the xDrive25Le has “the most spacious and comfortable interior among its class.” The X1’s interior saw a pretty gracious redesign as part of the second-generation evolution, so things like elevated seats in the front and rear, as well as adjustable rear seats, you know, for luxury purposes. The dashboard on the X1 is now cleaner while the floating infotainment system display perches quite nicely on top of the dash.

The X1’s interior saw a pretty gracious redesign as part of the second-generation evolution.

The big news here is that the addition of a battery hasn’t hampered with interior space at all. The battery actually sits below the SUV’s frame, almost right in the middle, which means there’s no compromise inside. On top of this, the car comes standard with a large panoramic roof, 40:20:40 folding rear seats, and an electrically powered rear hatch. Things like Park Assist come standard as does a micro-filter for the cabin and an electric rear-view mirror with memory function. ConnectedDrive functionality comes standard, allowing remote control of air conditioning, and other features.

Drivetrain

2016 BMW 225xe Plug-in Hybrid High Resolution Interior
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Note: 2016 BMW 225xe Plug-In Hybrid drivetrain shown here.

Under the hood sits a 1.5-liter three-cylinder that is backed by a six-speed integrated “manual/automatic” gearbox. Back at the rear axle sits an electric motor that drives the rear wheels to the tune of 93 horsepower. With the 134 horsepower available from the ICE engine and the 93 from the electric motor, total system output should sit around 227 horsepower – considerable more than the non-hybrid model, which boasts just 134 from its gasoline-powered engine. According to BMW the engine and motor can deliver up to 283 pound-feet of torque combined. Plated between the front and rear seats, under the vehicle, sits a high-voltage lithium battery back that has a rated capacity of 10.7 kWh. On a 220-volt charger, the battery can take a full charge in around 3.7 hours while an 80-percent charge is accumulated in about 2.9 hours.

With the 134 horsepower available from the ICE engine and the 93 from the electric motor, total system output should sit around 227 horsepower.

According to BMW, the xDrive25Le iPerformance can hit 62 mph in just 7.4 seconds and achieves a fuel consumption of 1.8 liters per km, or 130.67 mpg on the U.S. economy scale. Sounds pretty wild, right? Well, it has an all-electric range 37 miles and a combined range of about 391 miles with a full tank of fuel (9.24 gallons.) Much like the 225XE Active Tourer, the drivetrain system is controlled by BMW’s eDrive technology. In default, the system rocks out Auto eDrive mode. This mode lets the car’s on-board computer system determine which energy source is best for fuel economy. In short, speeds below 50 mph, the system will use the electric drive system. When more power is demanded, say when you put the pedal to the floor, the gasoline engine will kick in to give you a little more go. Max eDrive mode, gives you speeds of up to nearly 75 mph on all-electric power alone.

What really matters the most is the use of the battery here. See, the air conditioning system is now electrical. The compressor itself, which is usually belt driven on most cars, is now all electric. This means less drag on the engine, which ultimately means less fuel usage. Furthermore, some of the gasoline engine’s output is converted to electric energy when needed to help assist in electric motor function and to help charge the battery on the go. Speaking of charging, this model comes with BMW’s 360-degree ELECTRIC program. In areas where there is an authorized xDrive25Le iPerformance dealer, customers will be provided with a charging box and basic installation service for free. There are also semi-public community charging lots that includes two years or 1,920 hours of free charging. Public charging through ChargeNow is also available. In the end, the battery pack in this model is covered by an eight-year, 74,500-mile warranty (120,000 km.) All told, it’s not bad, but I’m still waiting to see when a manufacturer other than Tesla will come up with a way to provide more than 35 miles of all-electric travel.

Prices

BMW has yet to release pricing for the LWB X1, but we do know it will only be available in the Chinese market. The standard model starts out at about 282,000 yuan or around $43,400. The LWB version is expected to pull a premium of $2,000 to $3,000 more, so expect a similar increase for this plug-in model. All told, pricing will probably fall somewhere around the $50,000 mark by the time the model hits Chinese showrooms.

Competition

BYD Tang

2017 BMW X1 xDrive25Le iPerformance
- image 687384

Over in China, one of the more popular SUVs that also offers plug-in hybrid functionality is the BYD Tang. Introduced at the 2014 Beijing auto show, the Tang started its life as a 2015 model. It features a 2.0-liter gasoline-power engine and two electric motors – one in the front and one in the rear. The ICE delivers 202 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque while the electric motors are rated at 150 horsepower and 180 pound-feet each. The entry-level model generates a total output of 498 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. It’s enough to get the SUV up to 62 mph in around 4.9 seconds. Like the xDrive25Le, drivers can switch between hybrid mode and all-electric mode, the latter of which offers up about 50 miles of all-electric range. For those of you thinking that this model must be outrageously priced compared to the xDrive25Le, the Tang sells for around 300,000 yuan or about $48,000 – that’s right around the same price as the Bimmer. Needless to say, the Tang comes with way more power on tap, and the BMW is going to be a hard sell given that fact alone. As a point of reference, I would also like to point out that the Tang has a pretty stylish exterior and a fair luxurious interior – maybe Bimmer should have thought about that before skimping out on the second extra motor.

Conclusion

2017 BMW X1 xDrive25Le iPerformance
- image 687305

While I know that LWB models get a lot of attention in China, I’m not sure what BMW is doing here. It is bringing a $50,000 plug-in hybrid SUV with just 227 horsepower into a market with a similar vehicle that pushes close to 500? This just doesn’t make sense. Maybe the BYD doesn’t have as much of a following as BMW, but when you look at the Tang and the xDrive25Le next to each other, they are both really nice rides. In my opinion, this is going to be another fail in my book, as I would much rather go for the Tang with its 500 ponies and similar looks – especially considering it may even be a hair cheaper than the BMW.

At this point, I’ve got to give Bimmer a bit of a hard time. It’s got the BMW i3 which gets a range of just 81 miles. Of course, you can chip in for the range extender and get up to 150 miles. The BMW i8, which is another sweet ride, gets a laughable range of around 22 miles. With the xDRive25Le pulling just 37 miles in all-electric mode, it seems to me as if BMW is being lazy about its electrification. It can say it offers plug-in models, but they don’t really offer a usable all-electric range unless you work pretty close to home and have a grocery store down the road.

The point of plug-in vehicles is to lessen our dependency of gasoline and diesel, not to offer up another selling point with subpar range. Maybe I’m expecting too much from the German automaker, but I think it’s time automakers like BMW start putting forth more effort in this department. As for this specific model, I think it will easily be outdone by the Tang, and at a similar price too. If BMW is going to keep up with other automakers, it better do something much better by the time the X1 goes through its mid-cycle facelift.

  • Leave it
    • * Hugely underpowered
    • * Lazy attempt at electrification
    • * Little electric range

Press Release

The new BMW X1 xDrive25Le iPerformance has been unveiled to the world at the Chengdu Motor Show 2016 as the latest addition to BMW’s family of new energy vehicles (NEVs) and the first plug-in hybrid in the compact luxury SUV segment. Manufactured by BMW Brilliance, the new model combines driving pleasure with cleanliness and environmental protection in addition to luxury and quality. Moreover, it is fully in line with China’s development policy for the NEV industry. All these underline BMW Group’s production and R&D capabilities for sustainability in China and the Group’s dedication to leading the way in the NEV market.

The new BMW X1 xDrive25Le iPerformance was developed simultaneously with the new BMW X1 Series launched some time ago. Riding on the powerful, ground-breaking product strengths of the X1, it borrows the innovative eDrive technology from the BMW i line-up to provide unique electric driving pleasure, offering BMW fans yet another choice for green travel.

Electric drive performance and sheer driving pleasure. Throughout its more than a century of innovation, BMW Group has stayed true to its brand essence of providing sheer driving pleasure, no matter how technology changes.

The X1 xDrive25Le iPerformance runs on both electricity and fuel, with the petrol engine and electric motor powering the front and rear wheels, respectively, with the intelligent energy management system taking care of on-demand power response and energy efficiency maximisation. This design, inspired precisely by the BMW i8 that has been hailed as a future warrior, reflects BMW Group’s strategy of applying the revolutionary innovations of the BMW i line-up to other series-produced models by the BMW brand.

With BMW’s latest turbocharger technology, the 1.5-litre petrol engine at the front axle is mated to a six-speed integrated manual/automatic gearbox and churns out a maximum power output of 100 kW with peak torque clocking in at 220 Nm. The electric motor at the rear axle, on the other hand, produces power up to 70 kW and can instantaneously deliver a peak torque of 165 Nm at start-up. Thanks to BMW’s proprietary eBoost function, both power systems can provide a peak torque of 385 Nm allowing acceleration from stationary positions to 100 km/h in just 7.4 seconds with a combined fuel consumption as low as 1.8 litres per 100 km. Plus, BMW’s xDrive technology ensures supreme traction and safe driving in all weather and road conditions while at the same time enhancing stability during emergency lane changes or cornering. No matter which type of energy is used, xDrive optimises the driving dynamics and provides an optimal ride feel.

The X1 xDrive25Le iPerformance system comes packed with a high-voltage lithium battery with a net capacity of 10.7 kWh to provide a purely electric cruising range of 60 km and a combined cruising range of 630 km when working in tandem with the 35‑litre fuel tank. It delivers low emission and fuel consumption to meet the needs for driving in any situation, whether in the city, the suburbs or for driving long distances.

BMW’s eDrive technology offers three modes for controlling the energy source, all at the simple touch of a button: The driver can enjoy sheer driving pleasure – just like driving any other BMW – by safely leaving everything to the default Auto eDrive mode, which intelligently selects either a single or a combination of energy sources to maximise the combined energy efficiency with ease. For example, electric drive is initiated at speeds of 80 km/h or below, whether you are cruising at a constant speed or accelerating slightly. However, at any time you step hard on the accelerator or when the speed exceeds 80 km/h, the system activates the petrol engine automatically, letting both power systems work in tandem with each other to supply ample power and deliver the superior driving performance expected by the driver.

In Max eDrive mode, the car runs purely on electricity with zero emissions at speeds up to 120 km/h and minimises the burden on the environment – especially in urban traffic jams. When expecting to run into a traffic jam, the driver can turn on the Save Battery mode to save the battery capacity for later zero-emission, purely electric driving.

As with all other X1 models, the X1 xDrive25Le iPerformance comes with BMW’s Driving Experience Control, offering Sport, Comfort and ECO PRO. The Sport mode is performance-oriented and brings an even better response from both the accelerator pedal and the engine. ECO PRO, on the other hand, takes energy efficiency as a priority and results in a relatively mild power response and reduced power consumption of in-car electrical equipment such as air-cons. Also, the Comfort mode strikes an optimal balance between comfort and energy efficiency.

It is worth mentioning that BMW’s Driving Experience Control can work together with the eDrive energy management system to provide customers with richer driving pleasure.

Intelligent energy management, electrical energy priority and fuel efficiency. The only way to minimise fuel consumption and exhaust emissions is to prioritise the use of electricity drawn from the grid. With a 220V / 16A charging wall-box, the high-voltage lithium battery of the X1 xDrive25Le iPerformance can be fully charged in 3.7 hours and charged to 80% in just 2.9 hours.

BMW has not only given the drive system a full overhaul, but also the design of the car has been reinvented. The car air-con utilises an electrically driven compressor powered by a high-voltage battery, while the energy consumption of other in-car electrical systems also comes from the energy stored in the battery.

Another important principle of the intelligent energy management system is adequately improving fuel efficiency by keeping the engine running as much as possible at rotational speeds within the efficiency range during start-up. For this reason, the system determines when the electric drive system needs to supply additional power based on the energy output from the engine. Conversely, as a way to optimise the overall energy consumption of the system, some of the engine’s power output gets converted into electrical energy where appropriate – depending on the battery status and driving needs and then stored in the battery.

The high-voltage lithium battery pack of the new X1 xDrive25Le iPerformance, being placed in the middle of the chassis, sits at an optimally safe position of the car, proven to provide safety protection based on crash tests from the front, side and rear. With the charging and discharging occurring within an optimal capacity range and the use of a liquid cooling system, the battery always maintains an appropriate operating temperature, bringing benefits to its performance as well as prolonging service life.

Intuitive and user-friendly human machine interfaces allow more proficient involvement of the driver in energy management. Efficiencytainment, BMW’s unique energy efficiency display system, has all energy consumption information covered. The energy flow status gets displayed in real-time on the central screen as dynamic red and blue arrows or icons. Besides that, there are also indicators on the dashboard for the cruising range, charging status, energy consumption and other relevant information which is presented in an easy to understand manner to help the driver develop greener driving habits.

Luxury and comfort with ground-breaking configurations. Based on the design aesthetics of the new BMW X1, the new BMW X1 xDrive25Le iPerformance highlights quintessential, recognisable elements of the NEV family: double-kidney air inlet grille in blue high-gloss, BMW i logo under the charge port and the C-pillar, door scuff and gear lever emblazoned with marks indicating the use of eDrive technology. The new BMW X1 xDrive25Le iPerformance is available as Cross Country and Sport packages, offering up to 10 body colour choices, allowing car owners to show a bit of their personality with a rich variety of options.

Due to the electric drive system designed to sit entirely under the frame, there is almost no compromise on the interiors. As with the new X1, the X1 xDrive25Le iPerformance has a wheelbase of 2.78 m, comes with a large panoramic sunroof allowing more natural sunlight to enter and boasts the most spacious and comfortable interior among its class.

Sporty seats at the front offer raised comfort and support, while the rear seats slide fore and aft up to 13 centimetres. Folding down the 40:20:40 rear seat backrest allows boot capacity to vary between 445 and 1,550 litres. Electrically-powered boot opening also makes operation extremely convenient.

The car also comes with Park Assist, a system which is undoubtedly very helpful in modern cities. This system automatically detects suitable parking spaces and helps you park with ease. All the driver needs to do is to change gear and control the brake pedal as prompted while parking (curbside). Also, the zoned automatic air-con has a highly efficient micro-filter capable of removing fine particulates (PM2.5) with a filtration efficiency of 99%. Other extremely practical configurations include a rear-view mirror assembly integrated with electric folding, heating, parking assist and memory functions, an electronic handbrake and run-flat tyres.

ConnectedDrive – convenient and in control. In addition, the X1 xDrive25Le iPerformance comes standardly equipped with basic BMW ConnectedDrive services, which are free for ten years. BMW ConnectedDrive has always maintained a leading position in the industry. Other than leading with continuous technological innovations, the rich content, easy operation logic, professional services and a sound system round out its immense advantages. The basic services cover Teleservices and Emergency Call. Customers may also add on optional premium value-added services such as Enhanced ConnectedDrive, Concierge Services and Real Time Traffic Information.

With advanced BMW ConnectedDrive technology, the X1 xDrive25Le iPerformance also comes with some unique convenient functions. You can use the My BMW Remote app to turn on the air-con remotely, allowing you to enjoy a comfortable ambient temperature the moment you step into your car. The air-con runs on power supplied from the high-voltage battery and does not affect the purely electric cruising range even when connected to the charging wall-box for charging. You can also use the My BMW Remote app to view the status of your car, energy efficiency data as well as set driving routes through your smartphone. The navigation system based on BMW ConnectedDrive also includes information on public charging stations, making it easy for the driver to find available charging piles anytime.

360° ELECTRIC – comprehensive premium services for electric travels. BMW Group has especially come up with a 360° ELECTRIC programme to provide comprehensive services for electric travels.

First of all, home charging. A charging wall-box and basic installation service will be provided for free to customers living in areas where there is an authorised X1 xDrive25Le iPerformance dealer.

Secondly, semi-public community charging services. For customers without fixed parking lots, BMW offers semi-public shared charging services within communities and a charging card package allowing customers to enjoy two years or 1,920 hours of free services.

Thirdly, public charging. With ChargeNowTM, BMW Group partners with a third party to build public charging infrastructures. The number of charging piles is set to reach 1,500 this year.

Fourthly, worry-free services. The high-voltage lithium battery pack of the X1 xDrive25Le iPerformance comes with warranty services for eight years or 120,000 km, leaving you worry-free when it comes to battery durability.

Localisation commitment and trailblazing. The new BMW X1 xDrive25Le iPerformance is an important component of BMW Brilliance’s strategy for NEVs. BMW Brilliance has always been at the forefront of the industry when it comes to the development of NEVs in China. Our unrelenting efforts in developing energy-saving models and protecting the environment have made us the most sustainable and respected premium car manufacturer in China.

BMW firmly believes that innovation and sustainability will define luxury in the future. Electric travel will be a sustainable mode of transportation for a very long way ahead. With sustainability at the heart of our strategy, BMW Brilliance is leading the way and actively exploring the future.

The BMW X1 xDrive25Le iPerformance will only be available in China.

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