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