BMW X1 Suv first UK drive

BMW X1 SUV Currently BMW is on a roll with a new model roll-out ‘fest’ and their UK sales have increased by nearly eight per cent this year. 

One of their new ranges, or in this case heavily revised, is their X1 compact SUV or ‘Crossover’ available with two wheel drive sDrive and 4x4 xDrive versions with prices ranging from £24,660 to £32,860.

First launched in 2009 the X1 is the most compact of BMW’s X SUV/Crossover family which includes the new X3, the X5 and the imposing X6.  Last year in the UK the X1 was the most popular of the quartet with 7,200 sales followed by the X5 with 5,460 registrations, the X3 with 5,100 sales and the X6 with 1,422 sales. 

So far this year the new X3 is taking the top sales spot, because it’s new and of course some customers are downsizing. The outgoing X1 this year has slipped to the second best selling X model but the introduction now of the revised 2013 versions could still see it regain top position.

So what’s new about the new X1? To counteract the negative comments about the quality of the outgoing version’s interior trim and level of specification the new X1 has added specification and all versions get a premium feel interior.  Sport and xLine levels of specification have been added to the line-up to go with the original SE standard spec and top level M Sport version.  Despite being labelled a compact SUV or Crossover, some have criticised the X1 for its cramped interior.  Well until a totally new model comes along nothing can be done about that but after all it is meant to be compact. If it doesn’t fit the bill there is of course the larger X3, X5 and X6 versions to choose from.   Some internal redesign of the centre console, trim and seats do appear to give the latest version more space but the rear seat legroom remains on the short side for adults but its fine for the school-run. The rear seats are split 40/20/40.  The load bay has 420-litres of space and this can be increased through stages as one, two, or all three rear seat backs are folded down to a maximum of 1,350-litres of load space

BMW X1 SUV All versions are well equipped with the normal features expected in a premium brand car. These include electrically operated windows and door mirrors, air conditioning, premium sound system and so on. Key equipment items for the SE version are 17-inch alloy wheels and Bluetooth hands-free facility. The new Sport level also has 17-inch wheels and sports front seats. The new xLine level has 18-inch wheels and leather upholstery and the top level M Sport has the same as xLine but with the addition of sports front seats.

Outside there has been detailed styling change to the lights, bumpers and trim.

The new BMW X1 features a range of diesel engines all based on the latest 1,995cc, all-aluminium four-cylinder unit featuring common-rail direct fuel injection and BMW’s TwinPower Turbo technology with 18d, 20d and 25d labelling depending on power output.
There are, depending on the engine chosen, sDrive two wheel drive and xDrive four wheel drive models.

The power outputs are 143, 163, 184 and 218hp with the 163hp sDrive two wheel drive version being labelled the EfficientDynamics model and tuned for even better fuel economy and low CO2 without any loss in performance.  All versions however have EfficientDynamics technologies which include energy regeneration and capture plus lightweight construction.

The EfficientDynamics 163hp variant returns, for the official Combined Cycle figure,  62.8mpg with CO2 emissions of 119g/km yet the top speed is 133mph and zero to 62mph takes 8.3 seconds.

BMW X1 SUV The other power outputs have top speeds ranging from 121 to 124mph, zero to 62mph times range from 6.8 to 9.9 seconds with fuel economies ranging from 47.9 to 57.6mpg and CO2 emissions from 128 to 154g/km.

My brief test drive of the revised X1 was the xDrive 18d with xLine specification.  This is the likely most popular version .To my mind this is the best power output option with 143hp and 320Nm of torque.  Living in the country and tackling our poor UK road surfaces all the year round with unpredictable weather extremes thrown-in, I would always go for the xDrive 4x4 option rather than two wheel drive sDrive.  The xDrive system is not just about giving extra traction in snow, ice or mud. It really is of use all the time on-road because its variable torque-split delivers all wheel traction only when needed and then to the wheel or wheels with most grip during cornering or acceleration allowing the X1 to perform on-road just like an agile 4x4 sports estate.  The suspension and steering set-ups allow the X1 to be driven as a car, not a lofty, body-rolling 4x4 off-roader.

The 2.0-litre, turbodiesel engine is strong and responsive right through the range and it is quiet as well, even under load. Top speed is 121mph but it is the 9.9-seconds zero to 62mph acceleration time that impresses most. It allows easy overtaking of slower traffic, relaxed high speed cruising on motorways yet it remains impressively flexible in stop and start traffic.  The fuel consumption is officially 51.4mpg and my test drive using main roads and country lanes around the hilly Cotswolds returned an impressive 45.5mpg.  I would expect to get close to the official figure once motorway use was included.

BMW X1 SUV The xLine specification includes 18-inch alloy wheels so there was some harsh bumps transmitted back into the car over poorer surfaces but generally the ride was comfortable.  The handling for a 4x4 was really sharp and precise and the steering well weighted giving good feedback. Of course being a BMW there is drivetrain technology galore included as standard through their Dynamic Stability Control system which consists of anti-lock braking, automatic stability control, cornering brake control, traction control, electronic brake-force control and for off-roading hill descent control. There is no need for high and low ratio transmission settings or differential locks as this is not a heavyweight off-roader. It’s a ‘soft’ 4x4 but it will cope with muddy tracks, grassy slopes off road and with mud, ice, snow and flooded roads in a safe and secure way if the driver has the skills to know their own capabilities.

Other items of xLine specification includes air conditioning, electrically operated door mirrors, leather upholstery, multi-function steering wheel, parking distance control, on-board computer, good sound system and bespoke xLine trim inside and out. The only criticism was the wind noise generated by the door mirrors.

Overall the X1 has been very much improved for quality and specification inside and the styling tweaks outside have done away with its dated appearance. The rear legroom is still not its strongest point I agree but given that families are more likely to go for the larger X3 or even X5, for a compact premium crossover cum 4x4 it’s the best X1 to date but at £31,860 it needs to be good.

MILESTONES. 2013 BMW X1 xDrive 18d xLine manual. Price: £31,860. Engine/transmission: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbodiesel, 143hp, 320Nm (236lb ft) from 1,750rpm, 6-speed manual xDrive four wheel drive with fully variable torque split. Performance: 121mph, 0-62mph 9.9 seconds, 51.4mpg (45.5mpg on test), CO2 121g/km, VED road tax £0 First Year rate then £100 for the second year onwards, Benefit-in-Kind company car tax 18%. Boot/load space: 420 to 1,350-litres. Insurance group: 22. For: Improved in most areas where it needed to be with better quality interior, higher specification and updated exterior styling. Sharp handling, fun to drive, improved comfort, fuel and tax efficient. Against: Restricted rear seat legroom, door mirror wind noise, harsh ride over potholed road surfaces.   Miles Better News Agency

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