A little bit of this AND that! - BMW X1 sDrive20i

In recent times, BMW have become known to do things unconventionally by lavishing us with some unconventional cars. I guess it’s what a stalwart like BMW would do; they invent types of cars that we think we actually need. My recent studies have taught me that that’s what great marketing is. If there’s no market, we make the market. Let’s look at the BMW 5 Series GT for example. If it was not conceived, nobody would have missed it, but it’s been made and it’s available and I’ve seen many on our roads. Look at the BMW X6, a ‘Sports Activity Coupé’ that is the root of many arguments. Some say it’s fugly, some say it’s exclusive, some ask, ‘what is it?’

I am not making any personal comments on those cars, (because I quite like them both) but it brings me to the BMW X1 that I’ve spent some time with. This is another one of those BMW ventures that initially, you’d think nobody would want. It’s been dubbed an Urban CrossOver vehicle so that it has double impact. 

On the one hand it’s meant to be comfortable on the highways and byways of Johannesburg city. On the other hand, it’s meant to give you the freedom to trudge where your 3-series wouldn’t be so comfortable. Did it live up to its double impact promise? Or did it turn out to be more of a double-edged sword?

To BMW drivers, perhaps this next statement is a no brainer, but the term ‘Sheer Driving Pleasure’ is perfectly at home in this car. BMW have to stuck to the 50:50 weight distribution model on the X1 and you can feel it. It feels like you’re driving a sedan. Also notably worth a mention is the twin scroll turbo TwinPower engine that does the hauling. What I love about it is not only the 135kW shove when the turbo is sweating, but I moreso love that BMW have managed to retain the distinctive sound that is synonymous with their cars. It doesn’t sound like any other 2.0 litre turbo car I’ve driven. It sounds almost like a V6, and it howls like a soprano at its peak. I love it. When you’re out on the road, you can also enjoy BMW’s Steptronic 8-speed gearbox which is another thing that we’ve been made to think we need. What I love about it, is that it simply works. Now you’d expect it to work for a premium, German-engineered car, but I can tell you that there are similar priced cars with similar types of boxes, that don’t work. The only odd thing about it, is that to change UP, you pull the shifter DOWN; and to change DOWN, you push the shifter up. It sounds a little confusing, but it feels perfectly normal. Just an observation.

For the other personality of the X1, you get some idea from the raised ride height, the raised driving position and roof rails, which hint at an adventurous side. When I say adventurous, it’s a sort of adventure level 5 out of 10. In other words, you’re not doing any serious off-roading here. You’re not going to take pictures with this car on the top of a mountain. What this car gives you is simply a raised ride height that allows you to drive to the Vaal Dam for a fishing trip; not the Zambezi. You can drive to the South Coast for a beach holiday, but forget about Mozambique. This adventure is for the forgiving gravel roads in Magaliesberg, the countryside of Dullstroom and the cities in between.

Here’s what I don’t like: You’d expect that interior space would be quite plentiful. But it isn’t. I found the rear seats quite cramped and I found the boot space too shallow. The other thing I don’t like is that it’s not a headturner. It looks like a Cross between an estate and an a X3 which was probably the point but I don’t like it. I also found the ride to be a bit hard, which could in part be due to the double spoke alloy 18 inchers that this car ran on.

The base price for this car is R361,500 bucks, but with all the added extras like the Automatic Transmission; Double-Spoke Wheels; the Panoramic sun-roof; the Harmon-Kardon sound system; Navigation System, Internet Preparation, Daytime Driving lights, and and and ... the all inclusive price for this X1 is R546,597. That’s an addition of 51% on top of the base price. We should be used to this by now though.

SUMMARY: Anyhow, The whole point of BMW’s Sport Activity Vehicle concepts, is that they’re meant to be cars that can do a little bit of this AND a little bit of that.

I am not bowled over by the looks of the BMW X1, nor is the space anything to shout about, but I do like the concept of it. I like it more than all the other SAV CrossOver type vehicles. It’s got sedan-like driving qualities, with a few small SUV qualities too. It’s got a sense of adventure to it, even if Mom wants to use it to do the school run. It can do a little bit of this AND a little bit of that in the simple yet undisputed way that BMW’s do. . . And compared to its competition the Volvo XC60 and the Audi Q5, I’d say, the price is not too bad.

Would I buy one? Probably not, but only because I don’t think it’s pretty enough; or manly enough. It just doesn’t appeal to ME. It doesn’t make it bad though. In fact, I say it’s quite good.

AM -
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