Review: BMW X1 xDrive20d

Posted on 05. Apr, 2010 by in Auto News

Diesel clatter in a BMW is like watching Bullit to the strains of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. In other words, distasteful and illegal in 48 states. And yet, driving the new BMW X1 is a surprisingly John Deere-like experience. Is this a BMW or the ultimate agricultural machine? Maybe this kind of confusion is the X1 worst problem.

In modern times, justifies a psychological hotline BMW identity crisis. Since Mercedes beat BMW in the definition of middle-class luxury SUV segment with the successful ML, the Bavarian automaker will create the kind of separation anxiety, racing to new and increasingly eyebrow-raising niches. The X3 may have invented the premium compact SUV, but the X6 and the recent 5 GT have tried to answer questions no one really asked.

You would expect the X1 nomenclature to indicate its roots lie in the compact 1-series, but the X1 is actually a chopped 3 series Touring (same wheelbase, different lengths), the X3, the ugly duckling of the BMW family makes. Expensive and outdated, the X3 is less than 5 inches longer than the new X1, so the next generation of the sandwich child of the X-Series have a serious bump in size and kit to get to the price increase over its little brother to justify. Probably in 2011 – when it does the X1 also arrive stateside.

The exterior of the X1 is almost as confused as his identity. Front of the new BMW X-junior bears upright kidney grille. Coupled with the bulbous bumper from the 1-series, the result is not completely unattractive – but definitely polarizing. The back is influenced by the 5 GT, with an uncanny resemblance to the E32 7 series, but the way the X1's design elements combine, which makes it a bit of an odd bird. The proportions are strange, and they are not helped by the profile line sweeping from the front to the back – the best is the new 5-series, but feels completely on the compact hatchback that is fundamentally X1.

Fortunately, the X1 still has at least some core BMW experience. The seats are comfortable and grippy, and the thick, neatly stitched steering wheel falls comfortably in the driver's hands. The driving position is also much closer to a conventional car than a true crossover – disappointed so that fans of the genre, a little.

The rest of the car gets the basics right: everything at eye level is quite pleasing to the eye and touch, but as you go down, you do not discover flimsy plastics worthy of a car of this caliber. There is nothing here that you feel particularly luxurious, and the general design of the cabin is a little dull – even BMW signature gearlever is replaced by a run of the mill stick. Unfortunately, there's not even a proper armrest.

The newest member of the X-series is, however, get the right practical. Four passengers can be and so will their luggage – a huge improvement over the cramped 1 Series. At nearly 15 cubic feet, the trunk of the X1 is smaller than the standard 3 series. It is, however, to invite a lot more comfortable, thanks to the relative practical advantages of the tailgate and the slightly raised driving.

Call me crazy, but I've actually taken the baby-X to some mild off road and threatening proven that the X1 – and expensive looking bumpers in particular – is allergic to so much as moderate potholes. And if you do not live in a country as sunny as me, you really do not need xDrive – BMW speak for 4-wheel drive – the car is minimal clearance limit probably much faster than treacherous mud will.

The X1 natural habitat is the street where there is a good (but mixed) experience offers. The ride is bad. Blame BMW beloved low profile runflat tires for it. In moderately slow driving the X1 feels bumpy and crashes on minor asphalt imperfections, while at higher speeds and improved flat roads the experience significantly – wind and tire industry noises are kept in check, too.

Other than that, drives the X1 like a BMW should, with weighty hydraulically assisted steering that's not for everyone – especially not in the city and when parking. Fortunately, it is also right and communicative, very contribution to a driving experience that focuses very close to his siblings way. Body roll is minimal and the brakes are excellent, both in pedal feel and bite retention. The well-praised six-speed ZF transmission is also well praised here with a smooth and decisive action, but tap-shifters are missed badly for spirited driving.

The engine is a mixed bag too. With 177 brake horsepower on tap, it will not set this BMW's tires increase (or puncture them, for that matter), but 258 lb-ft of torque have their way around this crossover to 60 in about 8.5 seconds on the paper . Paper, it feels faster when the turbocharger starts at about 1,500 RPM. But then there's that John Deere identity problem. The diesel clatter, which is also in the rest of BMW's diesel-sipping offerings silenced, there is not only while the engine is cold, but also at moderate accelerations, almost never let you forget it's down there, and It is not regular unleaded without a fight.

Casting judgment on the BMW X1 is not a "good car, bad car" affair as with most cars, because you have to put it into context and now you can not. BMW would have us believe that their newest crossover the launch of a new and busy segment that are populated by the upcoming Audi Q3 and Land Rover LRX, but as of the present, can not X1 be compared easily to any vehicle on the market.

Even more confusing is the X1 not a bad car – it handles well, and has some practical edges. The disadvantages – a mediocre cabin iffy, driving comfort with the stock markets runflat tires, and noisy engine – place it closer to the 1-series BMW in the quality hierarchy. In the end it all comes down to pricing. UK pricing of the X1 place it in the vicinity of a price equal equipped 3 Series sedan, but significantly cheaper than the more spacious 3 Series Touring.

In this price range, the X1 can make sense for people to make the added practicality and raised ride rel willing, some refinement and cabin sacrificing quality. But it also comes mighty close in price to the larger Audi Q5, which makes me I wonder: is there really a place for a different sub-niche within a niche of the century?