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BMW X1 xDrive xLine 25d

Click to view picture gallery“Like arch rival Audi, BMWs ever-
  expanding market share owes much
  to its SUVs, a series that kicks off
  with the premium compact crossover,
  the X1. Vastly improved in its second
  generation, has it now got enough
  X Factor appeal?”


PETROL AND DIESEL FANS are both favoured by the X1's powerplant options: all are turboed four-cylinder engines with a 189bhp 2.0-litre version for the petrolheads plus three choices for oil-burning aficionados: a 147bhp 1.8-litre, a 187bhp 2.0-litre and, as tested here, a 227bhp 2.0 which comes with a standard-fit eight-speed sport autobox (with manual mode and paddle-shifters) that can save fuel by disengaging the engine and coasting when lifting off the accelerator at motorway speeds (only with the driver's permission, of course).

Just a glance tells you that this higher-riding, kidney-grilled SUV sporting Munich's blue-and-white propeller badging is both significantly taller and roomier than the first generation X1 — which means it's particularly good at carrying people as well as luggage (up to 1,550 litres depending on how you fold the 40:20:40-split electrically-operated backrests).

Access via any of the
four side doors is good
and within the X1’s
crossover bodystyle
there’s plenty of room for
adults in the higher-set
seating — and the seats
are comfy enough to add
an extra layer of
cushioning when driving
over broken or bumpy
roads...”
BMW interiors can be relied upon to present 'premium' quality, both style-wise as well as material-wise; ergonomically the X1's cockpit is also up there with the front-runners because, from the driver's seat, everything is in its rightful place.

Access via any of the four side doors is good and within the X1's crossover bodystyle there's plenty of room for adults in the higher-set seating — and the seats are comfy enough to add an extra layer of cushioning when driving over broken or bumpy roads.

Settle behind the multifunction steering wheel and you'll appreciate the first class driving position and the 'one-up' eye-view of the road — not only can you can see the bonnet properly but helped by deep windows there are clear views in all directions. While the seats look lightly bolstered they do provide good shoulder and upper back support and are, in fact, agreeably comfortable, and notably so on long journeys.

The two-tone dash looks classy with a widescreen infotainment display screen positioned centrally. Providing an effortless infotainment interface between man and machine is BMW's easy-to-use iDrive; there are also eight handy direct menu jump buttons around the rotary iDrive controller sited behind the selector lever.

Controls are all well laid-out and the dials sharply-defined, with tried-and-tested white-on-black graphics that are perfect during the daytime; the cabin atmosphere is equally attractive at night thanks to the red ambient lighting that comes into play after the sun's gone to bed.

Day or night, the brilliant head-up display is enormously helpful — it shows posted roadside speed limits, your actual speed, and navigation directions including useful next turn and the upcoming road name as well as distance to the turn plus a countdown, all of which really does make it indispensable.

In the summertime the X1's efficient two-zone automatic climate control system delivers big chills but when Jack Frost's on the prowl it, along with the three-stage heated front seats, will keep you as snug as the proverbial.

Adding to the ambiance
is a panoramic glass
roof through which the
light streams in;
the front section is one-
shot power-retracting
and there’s a ‘blackout’
sunblind if the
summer sun proves too
fierce...”
Adding to the cabin ambiance is a panoramic glass roof through which the light streams in; the front section is one-shot power-retracting and there's a 'blackout' sunblind if the summer sun proves too fierce.

Attention to detail and high-grade finishes are enhanced by plush, nice-to-the-touch materials including metallic inlays, while the quality brown leather upholstery makes it all very easy on the eyes. True to say, even if you're a fan of another marque, you'll find the X1's classy cockpit hard to criticise.

Another plus is the family-friendly storage in both rows, with good-sized cupholders and cubbies at the base of the centre stack and under the central height-adjustable armrest, bottle/can-holding door bins, a rubber-lined coin box in the driver's side fascia, a dedicated smartphone holder in the padded lift-up armrest and a practical-sized glovebox.

The rear seats are set higher than the fronts by around six inches, guaranteeing hassle-free entry and exit; the big door apertures also make for an easy in/out in car parks even when you can't 'open wide'.

Those travelling in the rear cabin are equally well catered for, with a generous central armrest with built-in cupholders and central air vents, plus decent legroom that can be maximised by manually sliding the rear seats fully back (they slide in a 60:40 format despite having three individual backrests); foot and knee room is also good while headroom is very much in abundance, even for an adult sitting in the centre slot. So don't expect to hear any complaints from your back seat passengers.

A powered tailgate (with fast-acting opening and closing) provides access the X1's deep and wide 505-litre boot. As already mentioned, a three-way-split (40:20:40) rear backrest boosts the X1's versatility and these can be operated from the boot or the cabin. Drop the lot and you'll have yourself a 1,550-litre loadbay with a totally flat bed made even better by the mid-thigh height bumper load sill. Also useful are the boot's side pockets: one net-fronted and the other a very deep bin. More storage can be found below the boot floor and is accessed via the fold-back section nearest the tail.

The 25d is the most
potent X1, with 227bhp
and 331lb ft of torque
from 1,500rpm

more than enough when
mated to the seamless-
shifting eight-speed
sports automatic gearbox
to serve up some serious
poke: 0-62mph in 6.6
seconds and a top speed
of 146mph...”
If all that's not enough, or you simultaneously need to carry a full complement of passengers, the X1's braked towing capacity is a problem-solving 2,000kg. All in all, when it comes to cargo versatility this latest generation X1 delivers the Beeming lot.

The 25d is the most potent X1, with an under-bonnet 227bhp backed-up by 331lb ft of torque from 1,500rpm — more than enough when mated to the seamless-shifting eight-speed sports automatic gearbox to serve up some serious poke: 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds and a top speed of 146mph.

It helps enormously that the eight-speed autobox has a knack for always being in the right ratio at the right time, and making the very best use of the turbodiesel's muscular power: progress in gnarly traffic is fluent, while out of town there's always a useful swell of 'grunt' on tap to call on for swiftly responsive 'no-fear' overtaking.

And unlike some upmarket diesels, this BMW 2.0 four-pot knows its place: it's politely muted although you'll know it's there when pressing on before levelling off at your desired speed — and then again you won't when you're cruising.

More good news is hidden out of sight — underpinning the X1 is a stiffer new platform and an improved suspension set-up. The benefits are twofold: first the ride is nicely compliant; secondly, the handling dynamics are more in keeping with those you'd find in an agile hatchback, with decent feedback from the encouragingly responsive speed-sensitive helm that's never wrong-footed by directional changes when you're driving with intent.

Together with the stable, enthusiast-friendly handling (underscored by first rate body control that keeps the taller crossover body neatly in check) and the 'intelligent' xDrive four-wheel drive system, the X1 feels predictable and pleasingly at home attacking corners and hustling along snaking country lanes and fast B-roads. And when you need to rein it in, the brakes are reassuring.

Along with worsening roads, our ever-more unpredictable and increasingly severe weather are additional reasons to have 4WD. Despite its front and rear underbody protection, the X1 is more crossover than out-and-out all-terrain vehicle. Even so, the four-wheel drivetrain delivers grip whenever it's called for, serving up maximum traction not just to counter slippery surfaces but also when needed, for instance, during hard cornering.

Together with stable,
enthusiast-friendly
handling and the
‘intelligent’ four-wheel
drive system, the X1 feels
pleasingly at home
attacking corners and
hustling along snaking
country lanes...”
All you need to know about the xDrive is not how it works but that it works faultlessly: of the 'smart' kind, and without any intervention from you, it distributes torque to the front and rear wheels in a split that will maintain the best traction at any given point; when it's safe to do so it conserves fuel and energy by running in front-wheel drive.

You can take for granted all the essential must-have kit such as a very competent infotainment system (SatNav, DAB radio, CD player, USB connectivity, Internet access, and hands-free Bluetooth with media streaming), keyless entry and locking and engine start, powered heated seats with power lumbar (the driver gets two memory settings), powered tailgate, leather upholstery, one-shot electric windows, auto-dimming rearview mirror, drive-away auto locking, powerfold door mirrors, electric parking brake, speed limit information, parking sensors, heat-protective tinted glass, etc.

You can also expect — and get — an active city collision warning and mitigation system, hill-descent control, a full set of airbags, stability and traction control, hill start assist, and tyre pressure monitoring. For the record, BMW's Drive Performance Control is also fitted — this lets the driver select between EcoPro, Comfort and Sport modes that each modify the throttle response, steering 'feel', stability control, and automatic shift timings to match the chosen vehicle dynamics style.

Altogether a better BMW beastie, this latest X1 makes a thoroughly usable family car, and has enough four-wheel grip for a degree of civilised off-roading as well as safe handling in difficult conditions. It may be the smallest 'X' in BMW's SUV armoury but it's nevertheless a satisfyingly well-fettled crossover with appealing packaging and dynamics — and that must-have blue-and-white propeller badge on its nose. ~ MotorBar

BMW X1 xDrive xLine 25d | 36,720
Maximum speed: 146mph | 0-62mph: 6.6 seconds | Test Average: 40.3mpg
Power: 227bhp | Torque: 331lb ft | CO2: 133g/km