BRIAN BASSETT spends Easter with the classy and capable new BMW X1 X Drive 2.0 d auto M Sport
THE BMW X1 is a luxury compact crossover produced by BMW since 2009.
Designed by the internationallyknown designer Richard Kim, it comes in S Drive, a rear-wheel drive 2x4 and X drive, an all-wheel drive version. Designated a Sports Activity vehicle (SAV) by BMW, production followed its debut at the Paris Motor Show in 2008. To date a total of over 160 000 cars have been sold.
South Africans do not like station wagons but love SUVs. They adore the high driving position — the feeling of power a large vehicle gives them and the fact that they can climb the pavement when fetching the kids from school.
The X1 ticks most of these boxes, but also offers a feeling of elegance and style which not many bigger SUVs provide. In fact it blurs the lines between hatch, estate and SUV very well.
The front end of the X1, with its split kidney grille, aggressively styled double round headlights with optional bi-xenon technology and LED accent lights is typically BMW.
Ascending lateral lines, a long-wheelbase and short overhangs add to the dynamic new look, while the redesigned bumpers in body colour and inserts along the side skirts emphasise an energetic personality.
Clearly visible auxiliary indicators are integrated into the exterior mirrors and the characteristic L-shaped rear lights and centrally-placed BMW badge result in a crisp feel to the rear end with its wide, easy-opening tailgate.
The double-spoke, 19-inch, light-alloy wheels, which come as standard on the M sport derivative I drove, give the external design a businesslike air which is easily recognisable in any parking lot.
In fact if bling is your thing go for the optional X-Line package at R7 100.
The X1’s interior will feel familiar to anyone who has ever owned a BMW. The quality of the finishes is of the best and the comfortable, adjustable leather seats have a fine, handcrafted feel to it.
The usual central console contains the i-Drive controller, the automatic gear lever, air-conditioning, radio, CD, Bluetooth and Aux controls, terminating in a centrally placed screen, which will give you a wide variety of details relating to your journey, as well as good quality maps showing your route, if you have the optional GPS package.
The driver is faced with the BMW three-spoke, leather-trimmed, multifunction steering wheel, which operates a wide range of functions reflected on your screen. Gauges are clear and easily read and the cruise control is simple to operate and disengaged with a press on the accelerator.
The interior is very versatile and there clever storage spaces and cup holders all over the place. The vehicle seats five adults comfortably. The rear, adjustable bench seats fold forward in 40:20:40 fashion should you want to slip in a surfboard. The rear luggage compartment grows from 420 litres to 1 350 litres with the rear seats folded and it is functional and easy to use.
Safety and Security
The X1 has a 5-star NCAP rating and a wide range of safety features, some of which are optional extras. The car has run-flat tyres and a tyre pressure monitor, as well seatbelts for all five passengers, and six airbags. Also included are the Dynamic Stability Control, Hill Decent Assist and Cornering Brake Control, which stabilises the car while braking. Performance Control assists when cornering and Dynamic Stability Control including Brake Assist, which recognises the risk of skidding before it occurs and stabilises the car in milliseconds.
The headlights are adaptive and swivel on corners. The vehicle I drove had bi-xenon headlights which were brilliant on country roads but these are an extra. The high safety levels do however make the X1 an ideal mom’s taxi.
Performance and Handling
The performance of the X1 depends largely on which model you buy and there are 11 derivatives to suit all tastes and pockets. The XDrive 2,0 litre diesel automatic M Sport which I drove features twin-power turbo technology, which BMW say offers more power for less fuel consumption.
The four-cylinder diesel engine is linked to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which pushes out 135 kW of power and 270 Nms of torque.
The 0-100 km/h mark comes up in 7,8 seconds and top speed is about 220 km/h. Fuel consumption in the combined cycle is 5,8 litres per 100 km — a figure all the more remarkable for the fact that I did some spirited driving.
The X1 is, like all BMWs, a driver’s car. It handles crisply in town and parks easily.
On the highway it cruises comfortably at 120 km/h and will pass any long, lumbering truck with ease.
The car I drove had low-profile tyres thus restricting me to wet B Roads, where it did well, but with appropriate tires I believe it will take you and family virtually anywhere you want to go.
Costs and the competition
The entry-level X1 will cost you about R410 000, while the range topping 28i costs R555 000. The model I drove comes in at R500 000, but it is a BMW so the options list is long and expensive.
There is a three-year 100 000 km manufacturer’s guarantee and a fiveyear 100 000 km motor plan, extendible to 200 000 km or seven years.
Also look at the Audi Q3, Mercedes GLA and Volvo V40 Cross Country.
The X1 turbo diesel returned a combined cycle is 5,8 litres per 100 km despite some spirited driving.