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Old 22nd June 2014, 16:04   #1
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Default A day with the BMW X1

I dropped off my car for service yesterday and was offered a 328d loaner. I asked for a gas car since gas is easier to find, and they offered me this instead.

A day with the BMW X1-20140620-19.51.42_1280x960_1280x960.jpg

Just thought I'd share my impressions of the car.

(I apologize for the crappy iphone pics in bad light - was a cloudy day, all I had was the phone on me).

Exterior:
Well, first the overall size and form factor - I find this in-between a hatchback and an SUV, a bit closer to SUV than hatchback. BMW calls this an "SAV", a "Sports Activity Vehicle" - whatever that means. Apparently this is an "X" vehicle based on the 1 series platform, resulting in a vehicle with (relatively) small dimensions. It is almost as wide as my 3 series, and I think the length is comparable.

Overall it looks like an SUV but is much smaller.

A day with the BMW X1-20140620-19.51.53_1280x960_1280x960.jpg
A day with the BMW X1-20140620-19.52.18_1280x960_1280x960.jpg

Interior:
The first thing I noticed with the interior is the steering wheel. It is nice and thick, in my opinion it is better than any of the steering wheels offered on the 3 series (including the msport and mperformance wheels). The surface is nice and soft to the touch, while still keeping enough friction to provide grip. The shape and size of the thumb grips is just perfect.

A day with the BMW X1-20140620-19.52.47_1280x960.jpg

The interior itself is nice but small. Of course, it is important to keep in mind that this is a car that is based on the 1 series, not the 3 series. Seating in the rear is strictly for two people. The car I got is an Msport, so it had the signature BMW sport seats which are the best seats in any car I have sat in, thanks to that extensible thigh support. Beats me why other cars don't offer it.

The dash material feels nice but not great for a car of this price. I like the brushed gunmetal-aluminium finish a lot more than any of the 3 series trims.

Again, sorry for the crappy pics.

A day with the BMW X1-20140620-19.52.29_1280x960.jpg
A day with the BMW X1-20140620-19.53.19_1280x960.jpg
A day with the BMW X1-20140620-19.53.00_1280x960.jpg

The navigation is the regular BMW-Audi style idrive system where you have to enter addresses by rolling a rotary control and selecting the alphabets one by one. I honestly hate it. In this age, it should be touch screen. I ended up just using my iphone for navigation.

One other thing I noticed with the interior in this car is the AC. For some reason, it works better than my 3 series AC in the sense: it is more proactive in terms of setting fan speed to reach the desired temperature, even in the lowest settings (when in Auto mode). In non-auto mode, the cooling itself is comparable to the 3 series.

Boot space is good for a hatchback, bad for an SUV (depends on how you look at it). Its about as much as a 3 series.

A day with the BMW X1-20140620-19.53.36_1280x960.jpg

Driving impressions:
This was an X1 x35i, which means it had the 35i engine rather than the 28i engine (an inline-6 turbo instead of an inline-4 turbo). My 328i is an inline-4 turbo, so this car had more "punch" despite having more weight. My previous car had the same engine, so it was good to be reminded of how good the turbo inline-6 engine feels. The sensation can only be described as "delicious". Imagine this: At any speed, any gear, you put the foot down and the car lunges forward accelerating. That's the best way I can find to describe this engine. The engine note is more deep and sounds better than the 28i engine too.

The car had paddle shifters but as usual I didn't bother with it. I never get the point of manually shifting an automatic car. If I wanted to do the shifting, I'd get a car with a clutch.

The handling is remarkable for a car of this height. I usually dislike SUVs for the way they handle, for not being able to take a confident sharp turn at speed. But this car comes close to being the balance between hatchback and SUV, and delivers on the handling front. Of course, this is no 3 series - a couple of sudden swerves on the highway reminded me that it may feel confident, but its limits come a lot quicker than my 3 series.

With the msport package, the car had remarkably low body roll.

One thing I was surprised about (guess I shouldn't be surprised) is that they switched out the steering in this car too, to electric power steering. I could've sworn the X1 I drove last July was hydraulic, I remember that being the last hydraulic setup in the BMW lineup (except for the M5 I guess). Like all electric setups, this steering offers very little road feedback. Having said that, this steering is WAY ahead of the Audi and Mercedes steering setups, it is much more accurate and responsive. The steering feel is very comparable to the F30's.

Overall this car feels good to drive, does feel SUV-ish. You will enjoy driving this car if you like the ride-height of SUVs but want a little bit (not too much) of handling prowess combined with sharp, precise steering.

Conclusion:
Overall, I enjoyed my day with the car as a nice change. But... would I buy one? I don't think so. Personally, I don't get the point of this car. It is neither here not there. Basically you get (almost) SUV-like handling with less-than-sedan seating space. Why would you buy it? If I was looking for a good handling car (which would be my only reason to buy a BMW), I'd just get a sedan or coupe with rear wheel drive and enjoy those corners. If I wanted an SUV, there are proper SUVs to be had (my pick would be the Q5, or maybe the X3) that offer the space and practicality of an SUV.

Still, nice car for what it is.

Last edited by rajushank84 : 22nd June 2014 at 16:07.
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Old 22nd June 2014, 16:11   #2
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The pics aren't too bad. Enjoyed reading your impressions but just one thing struck me. It is a left hand drive - is it an export model by any chance? Or are you based overseas somewhere (since your location is shown as Chennai)?

Last edited by wilful : 22nd June 2014 at 16:12.
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Old 22nd June 2014, 16:22   #3
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@wilful: I'm in the US, actually. Sorry forgot to mention that. I haven't updated my location in my profile because there seems to be no way to update just the location. Apparently you have to enter all the details from scratch, that you entered while joining. I've reported this in the "suggestions" section.
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Old 22nd June 2014, 17:58   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rajushank84 View Post
@wilful: I'm in the US, actually. Sorry forgot to mention that. I haven't updated my location in my profile because there seems to be no way to update just the location.
Ok- that explains it. Got me puzzled for a while.
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