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BMW X1 2014 review

EXPERT RATING
7.5
Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the 2014 BMW X1 sDrive 20i, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

In the rush to SUVs, not every carmaker gets every one of them right. Even a carmaker with a history like BMW's can zig instead of zag when it comes to getting the suburban soccer dollar. When the X1 arrived almost four years ago, the styling was greeted with something approaching dismay.

But with typical confidence, BMW has stuck at the X1 and the ugly duckling returned the favour with over half a million global sales. One in ten BMWs sold in Australia, believe it or not, is an X1.

VALUE

The X1 range starts at $46,300 for the diesel-powered 18d and rises through the 20i, 20d and 28i to $59,900.

The 18d and 20i are rear-wheel drive only (BMW call them sDrive), while the 20d and 28i are xDrive or what we would call all-wheel drive.

Our test car was the $48,300 sDrive 20i. Standard is dual-zone climte control, sat-nav, leather steering wheel, cruise control, stereo with bluetooth and USB, gearshift paddles on the steering column, central locking remote, rear parking sensors and auto headlights and wipers.

Added to our car was $1308 for metallic paint, $500 added some rather lovely wood trim (these words rarely go together), a $2308 panorama glass sunroof, $850 for front parking sensors and reversing camera and the $2769 xLine package.

xLine added 18-inch wheels up from the standard 17s, aluminium roof rails, different interior lighting and kick plates, full leather upholstery with subtle xLine stitching, sport steering wheel and X-embossed headrests.

This gives a grand total of $56,035. None of these options are must-haves, it should be pointed out - the basic spec is acceptable.

DESIGN

The external appearance was mildly improved with the mid-life update BMW calls LCI. The toothy front-end was been made slightly more appealing, but its cheeks look full of shrapnel. Some detailing has given it a less chaotic look.

The profile is still a bit out of proportion, with 18-inch wheels failing to fill the squared-off arches. The rear is its best angle, with 1, 3 and 5 Series cues.

Inside is instantly familiar to anyone who has been in the older E90 3 Series. It feels very similar because, well, that's what it is. The dash looks different but it has basically the same sweep. The instruments have their own binnacle and the small screen is set into the dash pad rather than hidden under a wider hood.

They're looking their age but BMW interiors are hardly avant-garde and no match design-wise for an Audi's.

A stand-out on this car was the wood - normally wood isn't actually wood or if it is, it's ugly. This wood not only looked nice, it felt raw, with a nice texture that had us absent-mindedly stroking it. Weird, yes, but it was nice to see something different.

SAFETY

Six airbags, ABS, stability and traction control, cornering braking control add up to a five star Euro NCAP rating. There is no ANCAP star rating.

INFOTAINMENT

While the stereo only packs a miserly five speakers, it happily fills the cabin with a decent sound. The USB port in the base of the dash is well-placed but the small screen isn't, as it is susceptible to reflections. The sat-nav is the same as any other BMW, which means it's effective and easy to use via the iDrive rotary dial and shortcut buttons.

ENGINE / TRANSMISSION

BMW's 2.0 litre turbo petrol sees duty under the wide, flat bonnet. Producing 135kW and 270Nm, drive is to the rear wheels via the always excellent ZF eight-speed automatic.

The X1 also has stop / start, keeping the fuel economy within cooee of its 6.8 litres per 100 kilometre claimed figure, returning 9.0 L/100km in almost exclusively heavy-footed city driving. Its reasonably low kerb weight (relatively speaking) of 1510 kg helps, as does the absence of four wheel drive.

DRIVING

As with the interior, there's something very familiar about the X1. The answer is in the details of its design which can be traced back to the old E91 3 Series Touring. It feels like the departed Touring in almost every way, the only downside being the extra height bringing with it more body roll and more understeer.

When you're not driving it like a hot hatch, it's a very comfortable all-rounder. The electric power steering is good if not especially chatty, the transmission (never seen in the old 3er) responds well in normal or sport modes and makes the car pleasant company.

The ride, an important consideration in this family-oriented wagon, is very good. It passed the speed bump test without complaints and is very wieldy in car parks and driveways. It'll dismiss moderately large potholes just as well as it swerves around them.

In short, it's a cut-price, cut-down 3 Series and there's absolutely no shame in that.

Given its different body shell, there is more wind noise and some road surfaces cause a bit of a boom in the cabin, but it's a coarse road surface that will do that.

Verdict

The X1 is a bit of a sleeper hit in the BMW's range and it's not hard to see why. It does a lot of things that other, more expensive Japanese and German competitors do, but with more distinctive looks and with better dynamics, better even than the CX-5.

Many people who buy an SUV don't want all-wheel drive but do want a premium experience. Sure, the options do mount up (as they do on every BMW), but for less money than a Mazda CX-5 Akera or Subaru Forester XT, you get decent power, good ride and handling and a German badge (if that's your thing).

All BMW has to do now is fix that snout.

Pricing guides

$39,990
Based on 196 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$17,990
Highest Price
$69,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
X6 M 4.4L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $72,100 – 91,190 2014 BMW X Models 2014 X6 M Pricing and Specs
X5 M50D 3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $48,000 – 60,720 2014 BMW X Models 2014 X5 M50D Pricing and Specs
X1 Sdrive 18D 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $16,800 – 23,430 2014 BMW X Models 2014 X1 Sdrive 18D Pricing and Specs
X1 Sdrive 18D Sportline 2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $17,800 – 24,750 2014 BMW X Models 2014 X1 Sdrive 18D Sportline Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.5
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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Pricing Guide

$17,990

Lowest price, based on 169 car listings in the last 6 months

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