Suc­cess­ful re­boot

Loads of ex­tras and room for a load in the rear give the new X1 gen-Y ap­peal

Herald Sun - Motoring - - TEST DRIVE - PAUL GOVER CHIEF REPORTER paul.gover@cars­guide.com.au

has fi­nally put the boot into its SUV starter car.

The orig­i­nal X1 was aw­fully short of car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity, as any­one who tried to load a pram into the tail for fam­ily du­ties quickly dis­cov­ered.

Now the boot is big­ger and the car is bet­ter af­ter the X1’s to­tal over­haul.

Part of the up­date is a switch from a 3 Se­ries base car to a plat­form twinned with the Ac­tive Tourer sta­ble­mate, which means a front-drive lay­out — with on-de­mand grip for the xDrive mod­els — and a fresh ap­proach to the prob­lem of cre­at­ing a fam­ily-friendly ri­val to the Audi Q3 and a slew of oth­ers.

The re­sult is a car that’s taller and shorter than be­fore, with seats set higher, more rear legroom and a rear lug­gage area with an ex­tra 85L — call it 20 per cent — plus the big­gest open­ing in the class.

The bad news is the stick­ers start at $49,500 and top out at $59,900 with­out op­tions, al­though BMW is pre­dictably keen to talk about ex­tra value in­clud­ing — at last — a stan­dard rear-view cam­era in all vari­ants, gen-Y gear such as app com­pat­i­bil­ity, LED head­lamps, au­to­matic tail­gate, park­ing aids and a full suite of safety as­sis­tance sys­tems.

“There is more X-news. We’re ex­pect­ing more un­der­BMW

40s,” says prod­ucts man­ager Bren­dan Michel.

On the me­chan­i­cal front, there is a new line-up of 2.0litre four-cylin­der tur­bos, petrol and diesel alike, com­bined with an eight-speed au­to­matic gear­box. All-wheel drive ver­sions ar­rive first.

The xDrive 20d makes 140kW/400Nm and the xDrive20i has 170kW/350Nm.

By year’s end, the front-drive sDrive 20i with 141kW/350Nm and sDrive18d with 110kW/330Nm will be in show­rooms. There were only AWD ver­sions on the launch.

Through­out the range, there are head-up in­stru­ment dis­play, leather trim, dy­namic damper con­trol, a larger 8.8-inch in­fo­tain­ment screen (6.5 is stan­dard) and gi­ant sun­roof.

On the price in­creases, BMW says there is up to $8000 in added value. The en­gines de­liver up to 17 per cent bet­ter fuel econ­omy.

The X1 has the po­ten­tial to be­come the best sell­ing X car in an SUV fam­ily that will soon ac­count for more than half of the up­scale Ger­man brand’s Aus­tralian sales.

ON THE ROAD

There are only two things I don’t like about the new X1 — too much tyre noise on coun­try roads and sus­pen­sion that is a bit brit­tle in all-wheel-drive ver­sions.

The diesel model in par­tic­u­lar can’t cope prop­erly with big bumps. Kick-back through the steer­ing is among the sus­pen­sion’s short­com­ings.

More likely to be a city-and­sub­urbs car, the X1 will work well for young fam­i­lies and those with week­end hob­bies that de­mand car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity. That means the qui­eter cabin, nicer view and ex­tra equip­ment are likely to be more im­por­tant.

The orig­i­nal X1’s body was set back on the chas­sis with a trun­cated tail. Now you im­me­di­ately no­tice the ex­tra airi­ness and cabin space.

I’m more com­fort­able with the ex­tra legroom in the rear, and the boot — with but­tons to drop the 40-20-40 split-fold rear seats — is a rev­e­la­tion. The pram is gone from our house but the BMX bike will be an easy fit.

Both en­gines are re­spon­sive and well matched to their eight­speed au­tos, with pad­dles for shift­ing in the petrol car, and it’s easy to get away swiftly or flow smoothly along wind­ing coun­try roads. There is good torque for over­tak­ing and the diesel can tow up to two tonnes.

The com­puter read­outs don’t match the claimed econ­omy (as low as 4.9L/100km on the diesel) but 7.1L is prob­a­bly all right for the more vig­or­ous driv­ing on the launch.

The sDrive cars will be thriftier, al­though they won’t match the AWD tow­ing ca­pac­ity or the 0-100km/h time, as swift as 6.5 sec­onds.

Best for me is that the car is re­laxed and re­lax­ing. It’s not as sporty as the orig­i­nal X1 — no great loss — and I’m sure own­ers will be happy enough.

VER­DICT

I’m get­ting a slightly skewed view of the X1, be­cause I’m only in xDrive cars that start from $56,500. It’s im­pos­si­ble to rate the X1 with­out test­ing the sDrive base mod­els — and we’re also wait­ing for an ANCAP safety score — but the ba­sics are strong.

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