Monday 5 December 2016

Eddie Cunningham takes a first drive in BMW’s new compact SAV, the X1

Published 17/07/2015 | 12:46

BMW X1 xDrive
BMW X1 xDrive

BMW’S second generation X1 compact SAV gets here in late October with prices starting at €41,310 on-the-road.

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This is much more like the real deal now; it looks well, is taller, has far more drive to it and, every bit as importantly, has more room where it counts - in the cabin.

That is because it is the latest Beemer to switch from rear to front-wheel drive. And that frees up space at the back.

At its most accommodating I could sit in the rear row with a lot of knee and leg room (+37mm; +66m with the seats at their utmost – this bit is optional). Meanwhile the 505-litre boot expands to 1,500 with the rear seats down. The front passenger seat folds too for long, awkward objects.

The X1 looks better, in part, because it is 15mm shorter, 53mm taller and 23mm wider. The old one looked like a tall-ish estate, I always thought. This is far more a compact SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle: BMW insist it is not an SUV) – let’s just call it a posh crossover okay?

I also noticed the higher seating (+36mm) which, along with the small steering wheel, left plenty of room for adjustment of either – not to mention that sense of ‘command’ these taller vehicles convey.

It will be interesting to see if more people opt for the front-wheel-drive (denoted as‘s’) or the all-wheel-drive (‘x’).

The 18d sDrive (€41,310) is front-wheel-drive but the other new models at launch will have all-wheel-drive so availability alone will probably play a role in choice.

I drove the ‘x’ version. It added a lot of traction and grip on some extraordinary roads and drives in Germany and Austria which, for me anyway, showed that BMW have now made something worthy of tackling the excellent Audi Q3 across a wider menu.

Of course it is a new car so it had to be much better but I didn’t expect the mix of handling and wonderful steering. I used the word ‘wonderful’ advisedly and look forward to getting the X1 out on Irish roads which will get the best out of the new chassis and wider track.

From the start there will be three diesels (all different power versions of a 2-litre 4cyl) and one petrol (also a 4cyl 2-litre).

I think you can also expect, at some stage next year, a 3cyl 115bhp diesel (called 16d) and a 3cyl 1.5-litre 136bhp petrol.

There are SE, xLine, Sport and M-Sport trim levels. LED daytime driving lights are standard. There is a 6.5ins iDrive control display or an optional 8.8ins free-standing monitor. Also standard are sat nav and a rear-seat bench.

The 6.5ins colour display, business navigation, audio system with six loudspeakers and an AUX-in socket are standard as are air con, automatic tailgate, front fogs, electric windows, electric/adjustable/heated exterior mirrors, rain sensor, automatic headlights, forward vehicle collision warning and city collision mitigation.

Options include a Panorama glass roof (1,200mm x 847mm) CD player, Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) and Harman Kardon hifi system with 12 loudspeakers and digital amplifier with 360-watt output.

Its October arrival makes this a 161-reg proposition which, I think, means it will be a name on a fair few new-year shopping lists.

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