Un­lim­ited Ac­tion

BRIAN BAS­SETT spends Easter with the classy and ca­pa­ble new BMW X1 X Drive 2.0 d auto M Sport

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

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.

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