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Tim O'Brien | Nov 27, 2012 | 4 Comments

2013 BMW X1 REVIEW

Vehicle style: Small premium SUV

Variants Reviewed
Model Power/Torque Fuel (listed) Fuel (tested)
sDrive18d - 2.0 turbo diesel 105kW/320Nm 5.0 l/100km 7.5 l/100km
xDrive 20d - 2.0 turbo diesel 135kW/380Nm 5.4 l/100km 7.9 l/100km
xDrive 28i - 2.0 turbo petrol 180kW/350Nm 7.3 l/100km 9.5 l/100km
 

OVERVIEW

BMW’s X1 crossover might be an entry point to the BMW brand, but it’s no less BMW.

Top to bottom, the Leipzig-built small SUV (and, really, not so small), has the same dynamism and prestige feel that is so deeply embedded in all cars from the Bavarian powerhaus.

In fact, there are very few SUVs that can anywhere near match the X1 for driving dynamics and that elusive ‘alive’ sporting feel at the wheel.

Like so many BMWs, the X1 is a car you want to drive.

We put the 2013 X1 sDrive 18d, xDrive 20d and xDrive 28i through their paces at launch across a range of roads in Queensland and northern NSW.

The new model comes with some subtle styling changes, revisions to the interior, and new engine configurations to set them apart from the outgoing model.

Pricing starts at a surprising $44,900 for the sDrive 18d (in manual; we drove the more expensive eight-speed auto), extending to $58,200 as the starting point for the manual xDrive 28i.

The sDrive models are rear-wheel-drive; xDrive models, all-wheel-drive.

Racy and smart, if not the first word in style, there is no mystery to why the X1 has become such a success for BMW – especially in conquest sales. More than 50 percent of buyers are coming into the brand for the first time.

Put yourself behind the wheel and you’ll understand why.

 

THE INTERIOR

It becomes a little repetitive commenting on BMW interiors. From the quality leather trim to the tactile surfaces, and for fit and finish, they are simply ‘a cut above’.

And all as tight as a kettle-drum.

The new model X1 gets more gloss-black surfaces, a reshaped (and improved) centre console, and new chrome accents and metal garnishes.

Slide in behind the wheel and you’ll notice the leather is a little harder to the touch, and the seats a little firmer, than you may expect.

They’re comfortable though, even after long driving stints, and, with the X1 sitting on a very long wheelbase, there’s lots of room behind for second-row passengers.

The upmarket 28i gets natty red stitching on the seats and doors; and all models get a magazine net on the back of the front seats.

Perhaps, to pick a debit, the seats could do with a little more shaping to the side-bolsters, especially in the more sporting models. I’d prefer a firmer hold for vigorous driving.

The wheel is just right, and the paddles for the eight-speed auto (in xDrive models) fall nicely under the fingertips – but attached to the wheel, not the column (preference here falls into two camps).

2013 bmw x1 update australian launch 21

There is a cockpit style to things, with controls placed to hand in the centre-stack and console, although you’re left to fumble for the cruise control that’s tucked away on a stalk. God alone knows why.

There’s ample adjustment to the seats for both height and reach. At the wheel, the X1 feels more like a spacious wagon than conventional SUV.

With the driver’s seat set high, visibility across the Roman-nose bonnet of the X1, and to each side, is excellent.

There are no obvious blind-spots for head-checks for changing lanes – something you’ll appreciate in city driving.

There are also short front and rear overhangs and a tight turning circle.

For features, buyers will notice that BMW is getting a little less stingy in what it packages in as standard fare. But there is a huge options list, of course, that can set the price off at a gallop if you start ticking too many boxes.

Standard fare includes cruise control with braking system, park distance control, climate control air-con, heated exterior mirrors, LED tail-lights auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers, five-speaker audio system with CD, USB interface, Bluetooth, aux-in connection and two-line display. (Plus yet more…)

Options include sat-nav, iDrive controller, high-res colour display, Harmon Kardon sound system, sunroof, adaptive headlights, and internet functionality (when stationary) among a list as long as the dingo fence.

For safety features, the X1 has everything that will stop you from flinging yourself into the shrubbery (ABS, traction control, cornering brake control, etc.) and, if you do, airbags all over the shop, seat-belt pretensioners and a host of other passive safety features, to ensure that you’ve got at least a sporting chance of dusting yourself off afterwards (with things mostly where they should be).

 

ON THE ROAD

We began the drive in the X1 sDrive 18d – the $44,900 entry to the range, rear-wheel-drive only and least powerful (but, on both latter points, not that you’d really notice).

It shares the 2.0 litre ‘twin-power’ turbo diesel of the $54,900 xDrive 20d, but in a lower state of tune. The 18d produces 104kW and 320Nm compared to the 135kW and 380Nm the 20d hammers out.

Both test cars came equipped with the eight-speed automatic, a $2693 cost option. (BMW Australia expects the six-speed manual to account for just 10 percent of sales.)

Away from the line, the 20d nails the 0-100km/h dash in a not-too-shabby 8.1 seconds; the 18d in 9.9 seconds. So, it’s academic, but there’s a bit of a gap from a standing start.

In the real world, neither feels slow. Modern diesels, like this pair, surely, are more about rolling acceleration.

On the move, when hunting out of a corner or doing a bolt around ‘the frustrated Fangio in his resplendent Rodeo’ (who refused to move over, not even a bit), even the 18d had no trouble picking up its skirts when a short straight presented itself.

Both ‘spool-up’ in a very un-diesel-like way, with little – if any – turbo lag. The 20d is quicker, it’s actually very quick, and responds with a willing surge of power.

2013 bmw x1 update australian launch 12

The bad-boy though of the trio we tested is the AWD 2.0 litre petrol xDrive 28i. At $58,200 for the manual (we drove the auto), it’s not cheap.

But, with a robust 180kW and 350Nm to call on, it has the on-road scorch of a hot-hatch. Join one of BMW’s track sessions in this car, and if you can’t see 200km/h-plus on the dial, you’re not trying.

And you were thinking maybe that this X1 SUV wagony-thing was a chick’s car? (Hmm, I’ve always liked fast women… )

Sitting on ample 18-inch rubber, the AWD xDrive 28i is also stuck to the road in a way few SUVs can manage.

But neither is the RWD sDrive18d shabby on a winding road. With a wheel pushed out to each corner, a long wheelbase and inherent on-road balance, it’s hard to pick the AWD from the RWD on a dry road.

A run through the slush on the way to ski-fields will tell a different story, but there’s little in it – if anything – on dry tarmac.

Lastly, we gave them a bit of a lashing on test. Even on tight motors, fuel consumption came in within cooee of listed claims. The 18d, in particular, has a very planet-friendly thirst.

 

FIRST DRIVE VERDICT

So that’s about the story. If you’re looking for more, you can upgrade both sDrive and xDrive models with the M Sport package. It will set you back $6075 for xDrive models, and $5152 for sDrive models.

But, straight out the box, BMW’s X1 is a more potent drive than its benign and somewhat-staid looks may suggest. The xDrive 28i in particular has real hammer.

And, if you can avoid getting too carried away with the options list, each in the range offers good buying value – you can have the sDrive 18d in the garage for around $50k.

For performance and handling, only the Audi Q3 155kW TFSI can take the game up to the 20d and 28i.

As far as the rest of the small SUV brigade is concerned, while there is a bit of a reach to the BMW X1 range in price, there is a gulf between them in handling and on-road verve.

If that’s important to you, include BMW’s X1 range in your research.

 

Pricing

Petrol

  • sDrive20i - six-speed manual - $46,500
  • sDrive20i - eight-speed automatic - $49,193
  • xDrive28i - six-speed manual - $57,800
  • xDrive28i - eight-speed automatic - $61,400

Diesel

  • sDrive18d - six-speed manual - $44,500
  • sDrive18d - eight-speed automatic - $47,193
  • xDrive20d - six-speed manual - $54,500
  • xDrive20d - eight-speed automatic - $57,193

Get the best deal on this car!
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