2013 BMW X1 S-Drive16d x-Line (P)

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After showing a concept car at the 2008 Paris Motor show and then starting production in October of 2009, the X1 is the latest in a now 4 strong line of X-numbered SUV’s that dates back to the original X5 of 1999.

The X1 name is a bit of a red herring though owing far more to the 3-Series and the X3 than to the 1-Series for its technical make-up.

With this being the smallest and the new rear wheel drive version, I was full of anticipation that it would be a fun car in which to spend four days exploring the Algarve.  Let’s see if it was.

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Beauty, as they say, is very much in the eye of the beholder.  The best I can say about the exterior deign of the X1 is that I personally found it quite challenging.  The nose especially is not particularly pretty, it’s quite bulbous and lacks cohesion with the rest of the body, which is fairly neat and reasonable compact at under four and a half metres in length.

This particular version is the newly introduced 16d version, together with the new rear wheel drive S-Drive platform and even the latest X-Line trim!  So you could say it’s a pretty up to date version.

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So what’s it like inside?  Very BMW!  Firm and comfortable seats.  A very typical dashboard and centre console.  A rather too thick steering wheel and spot on ergomonics.  Even with it being a smallest of the X’s, there’s plenty of space inside, especially up front, but also enough in the rear and the boot space should just about cater for families, though it is quite high due to the rear wheel drive mechanicals.  Equipment levels are fairly sparse though.  The basics that you would expect on a £25,930 car are there; dual zone air conditioning, bluetooth, 18″ alloy wheels, multi function steering wheel, rear parking sensors and a spattering of satin and chrome metal both inside and out.

I can’t say that I found the eight buttons on the steering wheel much use.  I didn’t get to try out the voice control or the telephone function, so that was two buttons out of the window.  One of the buttons I couldn’t find what it did!  And having two sets of up and down buttons did seem a bit pointless.  I’m sure that if it was my own car I’d either find a use for the buttons or at least get used to their controls, but in four days I didn’t find them particularly useful.

But that was it, so you don’t get much to play with.  What is there is beautifully built and weighted.  All the controls were lovely to the touch, though I really couldn’t get on with the indicator stalks that moved, but didn’t stick, then return to their normal position straight away even though they were on.  It took a lot of getting used to  and weren’t particularly natural to this tester.  Change for changes sake?  The cruise control and speed limiter function were on the same stack and I never quite fathomed out how to use them intuitively.  The gearbox too wasn’t exactly a bundle of joy to stir either sadly,  just felt a bit notchy and disconnected.

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But surely it’s out on the open road is where a rear wheel drive BMW is meant to excel.  Well not this one.  I was expecting some body roll. It’s an SUV after all, but I really though that it would be fun to drive with a sportiness built into all BMW’s.

I can see why BMW are starting to make front wheel drive cars, because there is no way that you could tell which wheels were being driven in this car.  The ride was firm, but in a quality fashion, the rest of the chassis was numb and disappointing.  It didn’t help that the 2.0 litre turbo diesel engine was so lethargic in every gear and throughout the rev range.  A 2.0 litre turbo diesel producing 113bhp isn’t a lot by today’s standards, especially when you have just over a ton and a half to move around.  The 192 lbs ft of torque couldn’t help the car shift along with any kind of urgency, sportiness or even allow it to flow down the road with a little delicacy.  It needed constant gear changing, a heavy right foot and a planning of the road ahead, not good when the steering lacks any kind of feel and there’s simply no joy in attempting to hustle it.  It’s obviously not the car in which to do that you may say, but this is about as far as BMW could possibly get from the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’.

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As said earlier, this is a £26,000 car, before you add metallic paint or any other options, so it’s not exactly a bargain to buy.  The official figures suggest that 64mpg is possible, I managed just over 43mpg after a variety of town and motorway driving.  It dropped considerably on a long up hill section, mainly due to the considerable use of the throttle and low gears, but I did go back down the same hill, which should of evened things out.  Emissions of 128 CO2’s should keep the running costs, tax and benefit in kind fairly low.  So it’s not going to be an expensive SUV to run at least

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When you’re up against such a style leader as the Land Rover Evoque and the far cheaper VW Tiguan things could get difficult.  But the combination of an economical engine, good space, a rear drive chassis and a premium name should give you some sort of USP.

As a car, a vehicle in which to get you about, it was fine.  It felt nice to approach the blue and white roundel, the grab the well damped door handles, to see the little LEDs light up as you unlocked the door.  It was comfortable and refined , to a point as the engine did need to be worked hard.  But if this was your first introduction to the BMW brand, I couldn’t see you  falling in love with it and wanting another.  There was no fun, no spark, , no excitement and no interaction.  It was a car, a nice car, but just a car.  I’d probably look elsewhere though.

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Home Forums BMW X1 S-Drive 16d X-Line (P)

This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Dan 5 years, 2 months ago.

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    After showing a concept car at the 2008 Paris Motor show and then starting production in October of 2009, the X1 is the latest in a now 4 strong line
    [See the full post at: BMW X1 S-Drive 16d X-Line (P)]



    Good write-up, Dan – and not too bad a holiday hire car! Sounds like a good job that there weren’t any rice puddings near you that needed their skins pulling off.

    The steering wheel controls are the same as in mine. Stereo volume is on the left up/down switch and the two buttons next to it are for the phone. I think even cars without the relevant voice control function get the voice control button so it might have been redundant in this case.

    On the right, the up/down switch can be used to change between radio presets or CD tracks (or ipod tracks if you have one connected via USB). The button with what looks like a donut and a ruler on it swaps audio function, ie from radio to CD to aux.

    Now, the genius button is the other one – the air recirculation control. I find this incredibly useful as it means that if a filthy bus or something pulls out ahead and leaves a plume of black soot I can put the recirculation on without even needing to look, let alone fiddle around for the button on the fascia. Such a simple idea but such a good one! Shame BMW has removed this feature on newer cars.

    I’m obviously fine with the self-centring stalks, as well, but I’ve had five years to get used to them! There is a detent you click through to activate the indicators rather than just do the three ‘lane change’ flashes. Then just flick again to switch them off.



    Thanks Piers. I did assume that with familiarity the controls would become more natural, BMW would hardly put something counter-intuitive in their cars. It doesn’t help that I have to find the menu section that allows you to change the language from Portuguese to English every time I go there! That takes time.

    I remember you telling me about the recirculation button many years ago, and use it everytime I’m behind a bus! It’s not quite so to hand in the ST though.

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