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Compact drive

The bijou member of the BMW family, the X1, tours the snowy assault course of Bucharest with Adrian Ion

March 2010 - From the Print Edition

3 Photos
The latest addition to the X range of BMW is the small X1, which targets drivers who want a four-wheel drive vehicle, but find the other family members too large or too pricey.
The X1 is born to be as versatile as an SUV, sporty in performance as a BMW, but also agile in an urban environment.
BMW is positioning this model at a quite low starting price compared to the 3 series Touring equivalent models. The X1 is smaller than the current X3, about as wide, but much lower down and shorter too - so at first glance it looks similar to a Touring model on steroids.
I took on a trip the mid-powered 2.0 and 177 HP diesel version equipped with four wheel drive and automatic gearbox. This is the middle powered version, between the 1.8 and 143 HP and the 2.3 and 203 HP twin turbo diesel. There is also a choice of petrol versions, a 143 HP 2.0-liter XDrive18i, a 170 HP XDrive20i and a six-cylinder, 258 HP, 3.0-liter XDrive30i.
Inside the car is the same layout one would expect in the other BMW models, with the same dials and switches spread throughout the range from the 1-series to the X6. This is good news because the quality of the finish is pretty high.
The central console has a new display with an integrated i-Drive screen instead of the pop-up item found in the old X3. Space for front-seat occupants is decent and the driving position is great as you would expect in a BMW. In the rear there are three full-sized seats that can be folded into three sections. The boot has a capacity of 420 litres which, when combined with numerous storage facilities and boxes, can add some points to its practicality value.
The X1 is a car that was praised for its responsive driving feeling and dynamic performance. Based on the same chassis as the current 3 Series estate, the X1 feels (and is) heavier. However the X1 has no real off-road ability due to its long wheelbase and small ground clearance, but its clever Xdrive traction system came in more than useful when I took it through the snowy roads of Bucharest. The BMW all-wheel drive system will distribute torque between the front and rear axles normally 70 per cent to the rear, but it can redirect up to 100 percent of its torque to the front or rear wheels as necessary.
The 2.0 diesel engine is quite noisy and will be present in the cabin almost at any moment. This is combined with the wind noise that is noticeable due to the large rear view mirror when cruising at higher speeds on the open road.
The ride is firm and, if the car is fitted with larger wheels, I would expect a bumpy ride - especially on the Romanian roads - so it is best to stick to the standard wheel size.
BMW is pioneering again in market segments and its German rivals are still preparing a response to the X1. This head start over Audi and Mercedes will ensure its success as its closest competitor, the Volkswagen Tiguan, has the disadvantage of not being badged properly for the premium segment. Other options would be Ford Kuga or the Nissan Qashqai to those who are looking for similar size and class, but at a lower price.

Vital statistics
BMW X1 - xDrive20d
Engine data: 1995 cmc and 177 HP diesel version with four wheel drive and automatic gearbox.
Consumption figures: 7.0 l/100 km in urban traffic and 5.1 l/100km on highway
Performance: top speed is 213 km/h and 0 to 100km/h in 8.4 seconds
Size: 4454 mm long and 1789 mm wide.
Servicing cost is zero for the first five years or 100,000 km.



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