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BMW X1 xDrive 18d xLine

Click to view picture galleryBMW is on a roll with a new model
  roll-out ‘fest’, one of which is the
  heavily-revised X1 compact SUV
  available with two- or four-wheel
  drive from 24K...


THE X1 IS THE MOST COMPACT of BMW's 'X' SUV family which includes the new X3, X5 and the imposing X6. So far this year the new X3 is occupying the top sales spot, because it's new and, of course, some customers are downsizing. While the outgoing X1 has slipped to second place in the X sales table, the introduction now of the revised 2013 versions could still see it regain top position.

So what's new about the latest 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 supplement the original SE and top level M Sport specs. 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 — and if it doesn't fit the bill there is of course the larger X3, X5 and X6 versions to choose from.

“The boot has 420 litres
of space but drop the
40:20:40 split seatbacks
and this can be
increased through stages
as one, two, or all three
are folded down to
a maximum
of 1,350 litres
...”
Some internal redesign of the centre console, trim and seats do appear to give the latest version more space although the rear seat legroom remains on the short side for adults but it's fine for the school-run.

The boot has 420 litres of space but drop the 40:20:40 split seatbacks and this can be increased through stages as one, two, or all three are folded down to a maximum of 1,350 litres.

All versions are well equipped with the normal features expected in a premium brand car. These include power windows and door mirrors, AirCon, premium sound system, and so on. Key equipment items for the SE version are 17-inch alloys and Bluetooth handsfree. The new Sport level also has 17-inch wheels and sports front seats while the xLine comes with 18-inch alloys and leather upholstery; the M Sport has the same kit as xLine models plus sports front seats. Detailed styling changes to the lights, bumpers and trim mark out the 2013-year models.

Powerplants offered include 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: 18d, 20d and 25d. Depending on the engine chosen, two (sDrive) and four-wheel drive (xDrive) is available.

The power outputs available are 143, 163, 184 and 218bhp; all versions benefit from BMW's EfficientDynamics technologies (which include energy regeneration and capture plus lightweight construction) but the 163bhp sDrive two-wheel drive version has also been tuned for even better fuel economy and low CO2 without any loss in performance —
officially it returns a Combined Cycle 62.8mpg with CO2 emissions of 119g/km yet the top speed is 133mph and zero to 62mph takes a crisp 8.3 seconds.

My brief test drive of the revised X1 was the xDrive 18d in xLine specification. To my mind this is the best power output option, with 143bhp and 236lb ft 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 the two-wheel drive sDrive.

“The 4x4 xDrive set-up
really is of use
all the time on-road,
allowing the X1
to perform on-road just
like an agile
4x4 sports estate
...”
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, too, 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 and relaxed high-speed cruising on motorways yet it remains impressively flexible in stop-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. Once motorway use was included, I would expect to get close to the official figure.

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 with good feedback from the well weighted steering.

Being a BMW, there's drivetrain technology galore included as standard through the 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's no need for high and low ratio transmission settings or differential locks as this is not a heavyweight off-roader. However, it is a 'soft' 4x4 so 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 skill to know their own capabilities.

“Improved in most areas
where it needed to be,
with a better quality
interior, more kit and
updated exterior styling,
the X1 serves up sharp
handling and
is fun to drive
...”
Other items of xLine spec includes AirCon, electrically-operated door mirrors, leather upholstery, multifunction steering wheel, parking distance control, on-board computer, a good sound system and bespoke xLine trim inside and out.

For: Improved in most areas where it needed to be with better quality interior, higher equipment and updated exterior styling. Sharp handling, fun to drive, improved comfort, fuel and tax efficient.

Against: Restricted rear seat legroom, wind noise generated by the door mirrors, harsh ride over potholed road surfaces.

Overall the X1 has been very much improved both for quality and specification inside; externally the styling tweaks 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 then, at 31,860, it needs to be good. —
David Miles

BMW X1 xDrive 18d xLine | 31,860
Maximum speed: 121mph | 0-62mph: 9.9 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 45.5mpg
Power: 143bhp | Torque: 236lb ft | CO2 121g/km