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Old 08-21-2012, 11:20 PM
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Quick Spin: 2012 X1 35i today

Taking advantage of the last of two days I'll be working locally in Greenville, I rushed down to the local BMW Centre to test drive a X1 they had in stock. I never really planned to get the X1 even before the test drive (wrong size, no diesel, 2 pedals only), but was anxious to see if it would live up to my expectations and see if it's a good drive, and more importantly, if it would be suitable for a certain type of customer. Each car usually has a target audience, and I was kind of interested to see if the X1 would fill the void previously filled by the E83 X3 back when it came out in 2004. So was the X1 a reincarnation of the "Active Lifestyle" SUV that was the X3?

3-second summary: A vehicle that's very good, but makes no sense.


I've seen the X1 in person and sat in many at dealerships in Germany, but this time I took the opportunity to test drive a Midnight Blue 35i which was optioned up to typical "American" specs- premium, xLine, Sat nav, and other luxuries, stickering up around $47k. I had high expectations for it to drive well, and thankfully it does not disappoint.

As is typical, I use my X3 as the comparison point. In this respects, the X1 actually drives better than any previous BMW SUV and has a solid, tossable feel that the current F25 X3 just doesn't have. Change of direction is eager and one feels very connected to the road. The steering talks back to the driver, the chassis is communicative, and overall it drives like a BMW from the mid 2000s. If you liked the way the E83 drives, the E84 X1 is your new BMW SAV ticket to Fahrfreude.

Unfortunately, it's also a vehicle that makes no sense.

The X1 drives well because it's even lower to the ground than the X3. It's also smaller, has a narrower cabin and cargo area, and rear seatroom isn't any bigger than the E83. And even though I'm only 1,73m and don't have massive legs, the driver's cockpit felt strangely cramped, as if everything was clustered around my knees. Visibility to the outside is just fine but the vehicle just felt small and impractical. And because ground clearance isn't as generous, I'd be even more hesistant taking the X1 off-road, never mind the fact that a long-term test by Auto-Bild yielded some loose-fitting underbody trim after many a off-road session.

Secondly, the pricing structure is absurd. There have been complaints on Xoutpost about this before. I can understand BMW NA wanting to make cars easier to sell off dealer lots, but between the Lines and Packages, it's nearly impossible to get the car you want unless you happen to want lots of expensive upgrades. But then, suddenly the X1 makes very little sense compared to the X3 which has a more updated software system and more comfortable cabin.

All in all, I'm really just not sure what the X1 is geared for. It's definitely too small to haul one's gear for a weekend excursion, unless you only plan on carrying say, hiking shoes and poles. You're better off with a larger SUV if hauling items is a priority. May I suggest a VW Tiguan, Ford Escape, and other midsize SUVs? But perhaps you say you just want something to pop down to the market or pick up your children, and cargo space isn't that important. In this case, may I suggest an ordinary hatchback or the 3er wagon? There are of plenty of sprightly choices out there, like the Golf/GTI, Ford Focus, and they both cost substantially less than the X1, and the Golf has a nicer, more spacious interior as well. The facelifted X1 may have an improved interior but it never quite feels like quality. The boot space is laughingly small (I'd be surprised if a set of golf clubs fit), and I wouldn't recommend anyone over 1,7m sit in the back seats given how low the roofline is.

The X1 drives very well and feels nice and solid. But that's pretty much all that it has going for it, and there are many other cars out there that do more things better than the X1. Honestly, I wouldn't spend my money on this vehicle even if it came in diesel because there's better choices out in the marketplace. Driving dynamics alone just don't sell a crossover SUV, it's got to have some real-life purpose and the X1 just doesn't have one.

Test conditions: The test drive was approx. 18km and took place on the ICAR campus located in Greenville County, SC. The weather was overcast and 29C and pavement conditions were fair.
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Old 08-22-2012, 07:27 AM
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:40 AM
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Nice review.

I personally don't think the diesel is necessary with this vehicle for two reasons a) because the 4 cylinder already gets great gas mileage and b) I think based on the size and dimensions of the vehicle, BMW is trying to make it more sporty and car-like. I personally don't find deisels fitting into this equation an BMW may not either based on the low sales numbers of the 335d. Diesels are great for the X5 and X3, but not cars or SAV's of this stature, imo. I prefer BMW's smoother, higher-revving gas engines in these applications.

I can see this being a good vehicle for people who don't have to haul a bunch of stuff all the time, but prefer the higher driving position and the occasional ability to haul odd shaped items that normally wouldn't fint into a trunk. Plus, you can throw a roof box on it and increase your capacity. (I wouldn't like putting a roof box on a car as it just doesn't look right, imo.)
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Old 08-22-2012, 07:28 PM
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I can somewhat level with you on "where does it belong?"

As for discounting the diesel model? absolutely not, I have had the displeasure of driving the X1 1.8si (RWD gasoline 4cyl) and it was completely and utterly shit house, it would be awesome with the 20d mill! We had a E90 320d for some years and that thing pulled very well and was a pleasant drive so I would imagine similar performance for the X1 20d, I think the X1 20d S drive is probably the best model on offer here in Australia.

The top of the line X1 here is the 28i and it pretty much hits the X3 20D price point.

Back to where does it belong? Next your X5..

That is what we figured we will likely buy for my partner next seeing how we already have the X5 and she doesn't want a 'big' car.

They look great with M sports package.
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Old 08-23-2012, 08:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDM-20L View Post
As for discounting the diesel model? absolutely not,
The diesel version just wouldn't sell well in the states. Maybe on Oz or other parts of the world, but not here. Not yet, imo. Especially with the gas mileage the 4 cylinder gets. The e90 335d had miserable sales here in the US.
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Old 08-23-2012, 08:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FSETH View Post
The diesel version just wouldn't sell well in the states. Maybe on Oz or other parts of the world, but not here. Not yet, imo. Especially with the gas mileage the 4 cylinder gets.
In the US, probably not so much.. and I notice the availability of pump diesel in US isn't as good as here.

Diesel didn't get popular here till about 10 years ago, in the last 5 its exploded in popularity!
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Old 08-23-2012, 08:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDM-20L View Post
In the US, probably not so much.. and I notice the availability of pump diesel in US isn't as good as here.

Diesel didn't get popular here till about 10 years ago, in the last 5 its exploded in popularity!
I think diesel is gaining popularity here. I just bought a certified X5 35d a few weeks ago, so I am onboard now. As far as availability, it seems to me that here in the southeast part of the US, diesel is pretty much available at 6-7 out of 10 gas stations and even more along highway and interstate routes. Diesel seems to sell well here with mid-sized to larger SUV's/trucks as well as the less expensive cars like the VW Jetta. Premium diesel cars haven't been a huge sales success in the US with any brand that I am aware of and the X1 falls into a category of not quite large enough or cheap enough for diesel here in the states, imo.
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Old 08-23-2012, 09:05 AM
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I did see a couple of diesel X5's in Charlotte a few months back...I found that interesting, I also went to visit a friend in Wisconsin and he had a diesel toureg and jetta!

My last trip to US a couple of years prior, diesel seemed like a rarity in passenger cars.

I'm a big fan and would take an oil burner 100 times over a hybrid!

You made a good move with E70 35d its a nice truck, I have driven the Cayenne diesel and I can safely say the X IS the nicer drive!
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Old 08-23-2012, 09:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDM-20L View Post
I did see a couple of diesel X5's in Charlotte a few months back...I found that interesting, I also went to visit a friend in Wisconsin and he had a diesel toureg and jetta!

My last trip to US a couple of years prior, diesel seemed like a rarity in passenger cars.

I'm a big fan and would take an oil burner 100 times over a hybrid!

You made a good move with E70 35d its a nice truck, I have driven the Cayenne diesel and I can safely say the X IS the nicer drive!
I agree with you. I would also choose a diesel over a hybrid as you can see with our 35d. So far we are loving it. Gas prices are creeping up pretty high here, which makes me even happier with my choice. Plus the torque is nice!

Do you guys get the same 2.0 liter gas engine in the X1 that is in the new 3 series as well? That engine has received much praise over here. I think the X1 is only 200+/- pounds heavier than the 3 series, so I figured the X1 with the 2.0 gas engine would be a good driver.
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Old 08-23-2012, 09:21 AM
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It appears so!

BMW Australia > BMW X1

AUS Specs ->http://www.bmw.com.au/com/en/newvehi...spec-guide.pdf

One thing here is we get a lot of the good BMW stuff and most the range!

Can't say the same for most other makes, we miss out on a lot of good sh*t from overseas.

Your 35d will keep you happy for a long time, the mileage is just awesome! Its not a big ask to get 600 + miles out of a tank freeway driving.
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