A thirst for adventure
BRIAN BASSETT takes the scenic route to Hilton in the new BMW X1 XDrive 2.0L d Auto
SEVERAL months ago we reviewed the outgoing model of the X1 first introduced in 2010 and were impressed with its design, engineering and performance.
In fact, the overall quality of the vehicle improved our understanding of the reason why the X1 has become one of the bestselling models in the BMW lineup.
The arrival of the new X1 and the hype surrounding it made us anxious to drive the car, which has impressed overseas motoring journalists.
SMG Pietermaritzburg kindly made an X1 available to us for a few days and we are grateful to the dealer principal Anthony Ellis for his assistance.
The X1 is underpinned by the same UKL2 platform as the 2 Series Active Tourer, which we reviewed recently.
The new X1 is, however much more robust and businesslike in its looks and aligns itself more closely with the rest of the X series.
The front end appears beefier than the previous model, made possible by the transverse engine layout. There is the usual BMW split kidney grill, flanked by the headlight modules and punctuated by a pair of fog lamps.
The front end has been dynamically designed and projects an aggressive image, a BMW trademark. The electric windows are colour coded and the door handles chromed. A 90 mm stretch of the new cars wheelbase allows a wider rear door, which makes access easier for oldies like me.
There is also more leg and headroom at the rear and this can be tailored to passenger needs with an adjustable second row of seating. The side height is broken up with metal ribbing and the rear is dominated by the tail light modules and a hydraulically-operated tailgate, which contains the rear window.
The interior of the vehicle we drove was finished in black leather, with white stitching.
There were some soft touch plastics but the overall impression was of quality and driver-orientated design. The new raised driving position is impressive and, although I was warned that the contoured seats might be a little narrow for a large man like me, I had no trouble fitting in — perhaps thanks to my latest exercise routine. The high seating position also delivers a much-sought-after sense of occupant safety, which enhances interior comfort. From behind the wheel the X1 offers a substantial feel, which when combined with a sophisticated interior makes the car a pleasure to drive.
The audio system, with USB/ Aux/CD facilities, is very effective, even when playing 1970’s rock favoured by one of my passengers. The idrive system is the operating system for the vehicle and is backed by a free-standing 16,5 cm monitor on the dashboard. The multifunction, leather-covered steering wheel allows the operation of the active cruise control, radio and Bluetooth functions, as well as allowing access to various information modules.
For the technophiles additional navigation and infotainment apps can be downloaded onto their smartphones. The remainder of the dash is typically BMW and much like that of the Active Tourer.
The second row of seats fold down in 40:20:40 fashion offering a class leading 1 550 litres of utility space. With the seats in place the boot is 505 litres, 85 litres more than the previous model. For those who want to customise the interior, BMW offer several interior packages.
Safety and security
The X1 has a 5 star Euro NCAP rating and its safety is beyond doubt. Besides the usual ABS with EBD, there is dynamic stability control, approach control warning with light city braking function, cornering brake control, Lane Departure Warning, Traffic Jam Assist, Pedestrian Detection, Hill Descent Assist and a whole host of other driver assists, which we cannot list here.
There is also keyless entry and an on-board alarm.
In all the vehicle has an impressive technological package to protect you and your family.
The BMW X1 xDrive 2-litre has a 4-cylinder, Twin Power diesel engine putting out an impressive 140 kW/400 Nm, to enable a 0-100 km/h run in about eight seconds. Top speed is around 215 km/h.
Fuel consumption always depends on the driver’s right foot, but after a few days off and on road we averaged about 6 l/100 km — not at all bad for the rough terrain we covered.
On road the car expresses its power via an eight-speed tiptronic gearbox, shared with several other X models.
In town the car is an ideal mom’s taxi, fetching and carrying the kids safely, easy to park with the Park Assist Function and allowing your family to plug in electronic devices you cannot operate.
On the N3 the available power makes driving pleasant and the large number of driver aids supports your safety.
With its all-wheel drive system the X1 comes into its element on bad roads and we drove to Hilton the scenic route along damp but not quite muddy road surfaces. The X1 offers a sophisticated and stable ride and handles rough, steep, sandy surfaces with ease.
Costs and competition
The X1 xDrive 20d will cost you around R565 000. But remember, the options list is long and expensive. You also get BMW’s five-year/100 000 km extendable maintenance plan, which is in my experience one of the best of its kind. You also need to look at the Audi Q3 and Mercedes GLA.
The X1 handles offers a stable ride and handles rough, steep, sandy surfaces with ease.