Monday 23 October 2017

Why the BMW X1 is much better second time around

First drive: BMW X1

Smooth engine: BMW X1
Smooth engine: BMW X1
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

I've just passed an old BMW X1, dark blue and dull looking. It really is more estate than crossover. This new one, recently driven in Austria and Germany, is much more like what you'd expect.

The SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle) has more by way of the looks people demand, sits taller and has a deal of extra room inside.

The latter is possible because it has switched from rear to front-wheel drive which generates space at the back. I sat in the rear row and had a lot of knee and leg room (+37mm).

With the seats at their optional utmost (+66m) it's impressive. And you get a 505-litre boot which goes to 1,500 with the rear seats down.

If you have long, awkward objects (present company excluded) the front passenger seat folds too.

This second generation X1 arrives in late October. Prices start at €41,310 OTR. It is 15mm shorter, 53mm taller and 23mm wider. I sat a bit higher too (+36mm) and loved the small steering wheel. Great feedback through it. Best I've come across for a long time.

There are front-wheel-drive ('s') and all-wheel-drive ('x') versions. For now, the 18d sDrive (€41,310) will be the only front-wheel-drive.

Here's the lineup: the sDrive18d (SE, 150bhp), €41,310; xDrive20d (Sport, 190bhp), €47,950; xDrive25d (xLine, 231bhp), €50,200; xDrive20i (Sport, 192bhp, petrol) €48,880.

I drove the 25d and 25i 'x' versions. Great, smooth engines in both but I preferred the diesel for its low-rev torque. I think you can also expect, next year some time, a 3cyl 115bhp diesel (16d) and a 3cyl 1.5-litre 136bhp petrol.

The 'x' factor added a lot of traction and grip on some brilliant driving roads. Finally, BMW has something worthy of tackling the excellent Audi Q3.

I expected improvement, but not this level of advance across as many areas.

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 rear-seat bench, 6.5ins colour display, business navigation, audio system (six speakers) and AUX-in socket, 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 but I think that will give people time to sample what is a much better option now.

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