Dispelling some misconceptions of the BMW X1


Vehicle manufacturers have some of the most effective branding and marketing campaigns on the planet. Our perceptions of vehicles are as engineered as the vehicle itself.  More often than not buying a vehicle is an emotional experience and not a technical or objective experience.

When I was given the opportunity to test drive the BMW X1 my mind told me that this was a small car designed for young, sporty couples with no dependents and no understanding of how a car should drive.  

With four kids and years of driving experience, I thought that the X1 would not be my kind of car.  Well, as it turned out, it is very much my kind of car and I spent a very enjoyable weekend driving around Port Elizabeth.

This first misconception, the small size and lack of space, began to recede as soon as I approached the X1 and by the time I had settled into the driver’s seat it was completely dispelled. There is room aplenty.

The second misconception was that this front wheel drive BMW would be too much like a hatchback.  It was only after some very fun test driving that I discovered that BMW engineering is way more sophisticated than the older generation of hatchbacks that I drove once upon a time.  This vehicle performs admirably and it would take some serious, and illegal, driving to really say that the X1’s front wheel drive is not up to the normal BMW rear wheel drive standard.

The X model genes are clearly evident - the short overhangs and long wheelbase typical of an SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle) define its exterior. Inside, too, the X philosophy is consistently maintained. Surrounded by high-quality materials and an intuitive operating concept, the BMW X1 treats its passengers to an elevated seating position.

The model I test drove was the X1 sDrive20d.  I come from the generation whose experience of diesel engines slotted them into smoking bakkies and big trucks but, as even Clarkson is aware, today’s engines are refined and the BWW TwinPower Turbo diesel engines are some of the very best.  Producing 140kW of power and 400Nm of torque, the X1 is no slouch and clearly suites the sporting youth.

Whenever I have the opportunity of a test drive I head for Brickmakerskloof, just off Park Drive.  The steep incline, bumpy road and opportunity for safely overtaking slower vehicles is a great, if short, test ground too which all locals can relate.

Coming through the traffic circle in Upper Valley Road and negotiating the speed bump the X1’s handling and smooth ride are so obviously BMW pedigree - sheer driving pleasure are the words that come to mind.  However, it was the surge of power and the very unmistakable, and rather surprising, fierce growl of the engine at 4000 revs that really made the journey up the hill most impressive.

The BMW X1 comes with a huge variety of options and the one I most like is the Head Up Display or HUD.  Sadly the model I drove didn’t have HUD but, in my experience, this system is amazing and I have no doubt will become standard in all future vehicles.

I certainly could see myself owning the X1 and, although I’m not in the target market, this vehicle has everything that most drivers, young or old, sporty or sedate would want and expect.

I consulted the internet for the opinions of other drivers and was not surprised to find very few complaints and mostly compliments.  This comment is closest to my own; “Overall very good handling and an enjoyable car to drive. The torque can be very addictive though, it seems to go up hills as fast as it can go down them.”

For more information or an opportunity to test drive the BMW X1 visit the Five Star rated Continental Cars on Ring Road, Greenacres or give them a call on 041 502 2200.