A thirst for ad­ven­ture

BRIAN BAS­SETT takes the scenic route to Hil­ton in the new BMW X1 XDrive 2.0L d Auto

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

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.

Styling

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.

In­te­rior

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.

Per­for­mance

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.

PHO­TOS: AL­WYN VILJOEN

The X1 han­dles of­fers a stable ride and han­dles rough, steep, sandy sur­faces with ease.

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