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2010 BMW X1 xDrive 2.0d

BMW X1 Test Drive

After lots of models that have basically created new niches, BMW is now giving it a shot with a new model, the X1, and last week I had the opportunity to play with the most recent Bavarian toy. In theory, the new X1 is a compact SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle); although in practice, you don’t really know what to think about it…is it a crossover?…a ‘pissed-off’ wagon?…do I like it?…do I hate it? Well, after 4 days of driving it, here are my conclusions:

Exterior
On the outside, the X1 seems like the offspring of a hatchback and a crossover. The only other similar models I can think of are the Allroads from Audi, with the difference that the X1 doesn’t look so much of an estate on steroids., but more of an SUV.

The front end follows the new BMW design philosphy and is similar to the new 7 Series, the 5 Series GT and the upcoming new generation 5 Series, which will be unveiled next Monday. Seen from the front, it seems quite intimidating, butch (in lack of a better word), with the huge front end pushed outwards seemingly giving it the aerodynamic look of a brick.

On the other hand, the rear is quite attractive, and the taillights, with that line-style design instead of the omnipresent LEDs, are wonderful. Although it might not strike you at first from the outside, but most certainly from the interior, are the side mirrors, huge in comparison with the rest of the car.

Our car had a few extra options, like the X Line package (exhaust tailpipes with chrome frame, plus Aluminum satinated finish for the front and rear bumper, as well as the side skirts), 18-inch wheels and roofrailing in the same satin aluminum. All of these cost around €1,500 (around $2,200), but combined with the Marrakesh metallic brown paint (which costs €600 or $900) makes the X1 quite attractive.

Interior
On the interior, things are about the same, which means it looks great. Of course, we chocked a bit when we heard it had around €9,000 ($13,400) worth of options, without VAT, but it didn’t stop us from enjoying the Design Cool Elegance package (Nevada leather Oyster with yellow-black piping, sport seats for the front passengers, wood inserts and a few other details), the multifunctional, leather-wrapped sports steering wheel and the gorgeous panoramic roof. I’m not so certain about the light-colored leather, as you could already see wear marks (although there’s stuff which can help you get them off) but combined with the black plastic and wood inserts, gave the X1 a big dose of elegance, even though I’m not the biggest fan of wood inserts. Too bad BMW didn’t release it in the summer, so we could truly enjoy the sunroof. But that wasn’t so important because this car had the highly coveted option of … wait for it … cup holders! From the 750i onward, this was the first time in a BMW where I didn’t have to look for all sorts of places to hold my cups or bottles. Besides the holder in the central console, a detachable one is also included, not to mention custom spaces in the doors, making the X1 a paradise for people who use smart inventions such as bottles or cups.

But seriously though, the X1 is great in terms of storage spaces as you’ll find everywhere you look places to put all of your things. The boot is quite large, and in case you don’t plan to open any furniture moving company, it can hold your entire luggage, especially if you fold the three-part back seats, which can fold independently, perfect for skis and other such things. There’s also another feature with the back seat, which can independently fold in three segments, as the back of the seats can be fixed in different positions, just in case you’ve got something in the boot that is a bit bigger than the overall capacity, but don’t want to fold the seats completely.

The only inconvenience I had with the interior was the fact that there were no lights for the windows, audio system and steering wheel control. It was quite uncomfortable trying to feel for the buttons while keeping my eyes on the road at night.

On the road
This is where it gets interesting. When I heard that we’ll have get the 2-liter diesel engine in the X1, I didn’t expect anything amazing. And when I got in and started the engine, I was even more convinced of that. But it wasn’t all that bad. Yes, first of all, the engine is really noisy (and not in a good way, like supercars, just plain loud), and when you go over 140-150 km/h (90 mph), you feel like the engine is about to take off. But don’t judge the X1 after the ‘screaming’ engine, as the handling is quite good. All of the 177 HP from the engine, combined with the Steptronic gearbox and xDrive all-wheel drive, are enough for a fast and smooth journey. We traveled on some secondary roads and on mountain paths, while it was pouring outside, and the car handled great, even at high speeds. There were a few corners which really tested all of the grip of the X1, but you do feel like you’re in control the whole time.

In the city, the coolest part is the size of the X1. Although it is quite big, capable of hauling your luggage and friends or family on a weekend drive, it fairs well in the city. It isn’t as big as an SUV and in a crowded city like Bucharest, I didn’t experience any big troubles while trying to get around. The curious thing is in regards to potholes (which trust me, we have a lot), as BMW found the almost perfect balance between sport and comfort. You can feel the holes, bumps and tram lines, but not as much as in a normal car. When you’re taking on mountain roads, on gravel and dirt, the X1 also handled great and didn’t throw us from side to side. What really surprised me was the fuel consumption, as on a distance of 800 km (about 500 miles), divided evenly to the city and extra-urban areas, the X1 achieved an average of 9.6 liters/100 km (24.5 mpg). It’s not a lot, but I was expecting something much better from the 2.0-liter diesel. I know the car is heavier, but I averaged the same amount on the 330xd which had a bigger engine and developed 70 more horsepower.

Conclusions
As with the X6, the X1 seems like an odd cross, but it gets the job done, as it gets you safely and with no problems through the city life but also allows for a nice adventure on roads which aren’t perfect. The design can be subjective (I, for one, don’t believe it’s that ugly), the interior is pure BMW, almost perfect that is, and the behavior on the road and off-road is also great.

I like:
-the interior with white leather and wood inserts;
-driving it around the city but especially outside of it, on mountain roads;
-the great gearbox;
-the audio system;
-the panoramic sunroof;
-the cupholders.

I don’t like:
-quite expensive: the starting price for the X1 xDrive 2.0d is €28,000 ($41,900) and the model we tested is listed at €40,000 (almost $60,000) without VAT, putting it on par with the X3;
-the noisy engine;
-no iDrive;
-the lack of illumination for the controls on the wheel, audio system and windows.

BMW X1 xDrive 2.0d specifications:
Weight: 1,650 kg (3,637 pounds)
Engine: 4-cylinders 2.0 liter (1996 cmc), 177 hp (133 kW) at 4,000 rpm, 350 Nm at 1750-3000 rpm
Performance: 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 8.4 seconds and top speed of 205 km/h (127 mph)
Fuel consumption (urban/extra-urban/combined): 7.0 / 5.1 / 5.8 (liters per 100 km) or 33.6 / 46.1 / 40.5 (US mpg)

As always, big thanks to Alex Seremet from BMW Romania!

Click here for the full photo Gallery: BMW X1 Test Drive

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