One of my personal vehicles coming out of the Munich gates in the past year or so, is the new entry-level premium compact SAV, BMW X1. Taking over the reins from the X3, the X1 is being marketed as “Joy” vehicle, a fun automobile that will attract a younger demographic.
Launched in Europe last year, the X1 is said to haves exceeded the sales projections and the feedback from customers has been on the positive side. The North American market will see the some X1 variants in 2011.
Continuing our run of test drive reviews, here is one from Motor Torque published a few months back which gives us a better understanding of what X1 stands for and its mission statement.
BMW X1 market
BMW say currently it is the only ‘premium’ compact Sports Activity Vehicle currently on sale in the UK although the Audi Q3 and the baby Land/Range Rover will be competitors in the future. Once the range has additional specifications added around 6,500 of them should be sold in a full year in the UK.
Owners of the current Toyota RAV4, Volkswagen Tiguan , Ford Kuga and down-sizers from the BMW X3 are likely customers an but BMW think 65% of sales will go to conquest customers.
Just over half will opt for sDrive two wheel drive models, a pattern already set by other brands of medium sized, 4×4 appearance vehicles who are finding that two-wheel drive variants, because of running costs, are more popular.
The five door, five seat X1 certainly takes its styling theme from other X models in the BMW range but it is less obviously a bulky 4×4 or SAV to attract a car audience. It has a softer styling so as not to put potential owners off buying a 4×4 type vehicle.
BMW X1 on-road and off-road
The great thing about all BMW X models is just how well they drive on the roads under all conditions. There is none of the body roll, choppy hard and non compliant suspension characteristics.
Road holding, grip and steering is almost as sharp as most of their passenger cars. The X1 drives like a really well sorted sports estate, despite it extra height and weight.
During the first UK media test driving in the absolute top of Scotland, lashed by gales and high winds, the on road driving with huge amounts of standing water was safe and sure even in rear wheel drive form.
Add the xDrive all wheel drive function and the vehicle was even better especially when it came to long sections of rough stone tracks and very wet gravel sections such as you might find on a rally.
For: Size, choice of two or four wheel drive models, softer exterior styling over a conventional SUV, brilliant on-road handling in all conditions, comfortable, relatively well priced
Against: Poor interior quality in places