Cars - BMW

Road tests and reviews of the latest BMW models available in South Africa

2016 BMW X1 2.5i Auto

2016 BMW X1 2.5i Auto

By Franky Johnson

The flashy all new, second-generation BMW X1 was launched locally in November last year has big shoes to fill in replacing its volume selling predecessor, however it does feature a body design straight out of the BMW X model mould. BMW markets the X1 crossover as a Sports Activity Vehicle, the company's proprietary descriptor for its X-line of vehicles.

The new X1 SAV is available in eight model derivatives but the version we feature in these road impressions is the top of the range BMW X1 xDrive 2.5i automatic.

The highlight of the front end is the large, upright BMW kidney grille, the three-section lower air intake, and the characteristic “six-eyed” look formed by the twin circular headlights and foglamps. The new BMW X1 includes full-LED headlights for low and high beam and the LED daytime driving lights are from the options list.

From the sides the X1 has twin aluminium roof rails, a sunroof while the flared wheel arches are filled with 18” titanium finish sport alloy wheels, which on the press vehicle were wrapped in very low profile 225/50R18 Pirelli tyres.

Fitted with the optional full-LED units, the two-section, L-shaped rear lights produce an even band of light and their flat outline emphasises the width of the rear end, with the vertically arranged black aeroblades, which fit flush with the roof spoiler, and the twin exhaust tailpipes finished in chrome high-gloss.

The new BMW X1 is 53 millimetres higher than before, which translates to a higher ride height, a more spacious cabin and a more commanding driving position.

The interior of the X1 is typical BMW, combines the driver-focused cockpit design that has become a hallmark of the brand, and the Dakota leather interior gives it a more luxurious cabin. Standard equipment includes a leather-bound multi-function three spoke steering wheel,air conditioning, an audio system with USB and AUX-in sockets, and the iDrive operating system is quick and easy to get around using the rotary dial and touchpad, a reverse camera and the 6.5-inch display is integrated into the instrument panel in freestanding monitor form.

The front bucket seats are nicely bolstered, comfortable and fully adjustable with an armrest in between. At the rear knee room has increased by 37 millimetres in standard specification and by up to 66 millimetres with the optionally adjustable rear seat. The X1 is great in terms of storage spaces, as everywhere you look you’ll find places to put your oddments, and the 505-litre boot capacity is 85 litres larger than that of its predecessor. Folding down the standard-fitted 40:20:40 rear seat backrest allows load capacity to be expanded to as much as 1.550 litres.

The boot is large, and can hold your entire luggage, especially if you fold the three-part back seats, which can fold independently, perfect for surfboards and other long items.

In terms of safety equipment, the new X1 xDrive 2.5i comes with a full house of both active and passive features including all the electronic driving stability systems such as DSC including disc brakes front and rear and ABS, ASC, DBC, DTC. Traction Control, follow-me-home headlights, cruise control with brake function and rear parking sensors.

The new BMW new X1 xDrive 2.5i automatic is powered by a new 1.995 cc TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder petrol engine with twin-scroll turbocharger. It produces 170 kw at 5 000 rpm and a hefty 350 Nm of torque from just 1 250 rpm, and transfers power to the road through BMW’s new xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system, which distributes drive between the front and rear axle just as required for the situation at hand, and is mated to BMW’s 8-speed Steptronic transmission. Seated behind the wheel, outward visibility is good and once you’ve taken a few moments to familiarise yourself with all the controls, the X1 is a pleasure to drive.

The Steptronic transmission offers a choice of three driving modes – EcoPro, sport or comfort. For normal running about I’d leave it in comfort mode but for the performance testing I selected sport mode and manual gear shifting. The X1 2.5i is really potent for a smallish crossover. It covered the 0 to 100 km/k sprint in 7.5 seconds after two gear-changes and top speed is given as 235 km/h. Claimed petrol consumption is 6.5 litres per 100 kms however over the week I had the X1 I averaged 7.8 which still is good.

On the open road the BMW X1 iDrive 2.5i auto cruises nice and quietly in 8th gear at around the 120 km/h mark with the motor revving at just over 2 000 rpm, and when pushed hard, for more power to pass, the auto box and engine, responds immediately and there’s no sign of turbo-lag. On the twisty roads in the KZN Midlands the X1 handled great, even at high speeds, and my passenger had no complaints about being thrown from side to side. There were a few corners, which really tested the grip of the X1, but you do feel you’re in control the whole time.

On the secondary roads up the North Coast, where the tar surfaces are really poor, the X1 delivers an almost perfect balance between sport and comfort making it easier to dodge the potholes.

In the city, the compact X1 is capable of hauling your luggage and friends or family on a weekend drive, and being smaller than a SUV, it is much easier to maneuver and park. The X1 is a good all-rounder – it works well in the city, and also allows for a nice adventure on roads, which you wouldn’t normally tackle in a car.

The recommended basic price for the BWW X1 xDrive 2.5i automatic, excluding the options fitted is R639 400 and that includes BMW’s 5 Year/100 000 km Motorplan.

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