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Car reviews - BMW - X1 - 5-dr wagon range

Launch Story

BMW logo22 Nov 2012

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI and TIM NICHOLSON

BMW hopes to build on the “consistent” sales performance of its X1 compact SUV in Australia – and its ability to attract new customers to the brand – with the facelifted version that was officially launched this week.

The mid-life update brings improved performance and fuel efficiency via three new four-cylinder engines and the option of a segment-first eight-speed automatic transmission, plus subtle refinements to exterior styling and interior presentation.

BMW has also introduced its Lines customisation packages to the X1, with two streams offering unique combinations of interior and exterior styling touches plus minor equipment enhancements in addition to the pre-existing M Sport kit.

With selective amnesia regarding Land Rover’s original 1997 Freelander, the Bavarian brand claims to have created the luxury compact SUV segment when the X1 was launched globally in mid-2009.

Since then, 300,000 have been sold world-wide – of which close to 6000 reached Australia since its introduction here in early 2010.

On average, BMW has sold 175 X1s a month in Australia since launch, peaking at 296 units in October 2010, while the Range Rover Evoque has averaged 197 units since its local introduction a year ago and the Audi Q3 has averaged 141 monthly sales since hitting showrooms in March.

BMW Group Australia head of corporate communications Piers Scott said about half of X1 buyers are new to the brand – with many first-timers in the premium market – a trend he put down to the fact the model made entry to a BMW more attainable, especially at SUV level.

He said most of the remainder traded in a 3 Series sedan (the X1 shares underpinnings with the outgoing E91 3 Series Touring), and that along with the 1 Series, has one of BMW’s highest proportion of female buyers.

BMW has maintained a fairly consistent X1 sales rate, even leading up to the facelift’s launch, and Mr Scott said he expected more of the same from the updated model, if not a strong chance of increased volume, regardless of general SUV segment growth.

The X1 remains the only compact luxury SUV available with rear-wheel drive, and BMW has boosted the model’s uniqueness by offering an eight-speed automatic transmission option, which now joins manual variants in offering a fuel-saving idle-stop system.

BMW expects the automatic – commanding a $2693 premium over the manual – to be specified on more than 80 per cent of cars sold and for most to be RWD ‘sDrive’ variants.

Also unique is the carry-over 40:20:40 split, tilt-adjustable rear bench, which enables numerous compromises of comfort and cargo capacity, with boot space ranging from 360 litres to 480 litres with the seats up to a maximum of 1350 litres when folded.

RWD entry-level sDrive variants get a pair of new engines, opening with the 105kW/320Nm turbo-diesel 18d priced from $44,900 plus on-road costs.

The 18d consumes 4.9 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres and can accelerate from standstill to 100km/h in 9.6 seconds.

The 135kW/270Nm 20i ($46,900) is powered by BMW’s N20 direct-injection turbo-petrol engine that is 23 per cent more powerful yet 16 per cent more efficient than its naturally aspirated 18i predecessor, consuming 6.9L/100km and hitting triple digits in 7.4 seconds.

Standard equipment includes a six-speed manual transmission, a new fuel-saving Eco Pro driving mode, new Servotronic adaptive electric power steering and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Inside is faux-leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, automatic headlights and wipers, a multi-function steering wheel, five-speaker audio system with Bluetooth telephony and USB/auxilliary inputs, rear parking sensors, velour floor mats, front and rear arm-rests and an interior storage pack.

All-wheel-drive xDrive variants start with a tweaked carry-over diesel engine in the 135kW/380Nm 20d from $54,900.

The 20d is four per cent more powerful and five per cent more efficient than before, meaning it can sprint to 100km/h in 8.1 seconds and consumes 5.5L/100km – three tenths better than before on both counts.

Now serving as flagship is the $58,200 28i, using a 180kW/350Nm version of the 20i’s N20 turbo-petrol engine that is 12 per cent more powerful than its six-cylinder 25i predecessor.

It offers a sporty 6.1-second 0-100km/h but consumes 16 per cent less fuel than the naturally aspirated 25i, at 7.8L/100km.

Prices for all facelifted X1 models have risen $400 since pricing was announced in September due to the standard inclusion of floor mats across the range.

The xDrive variants are differentiated by their 18-inch alloy wheels, extra chrome highlights, aluminium-look roof rails (sDrive variants have black items), anti-dazzle interior mirror and leather sports steering wheel.

BMW expects a strong response to the news Lines customisation packages in Australia based on demand with the 3 Series, where about 80 per cent of customers specify the upgrade and few base models are sold.

The xLine pack costs $2461 on AWD variants or $3307 on RWD variants and includes satin aluminium exterior trim and roof rails, a silver grille and unique 18-inch alloy wheels (with 19-inch items debuting as an option).

Interior upgrades comprise leather upholstery (black, oyster or brown with contrast piping), a sports steering wheel, ambient lighting, glossy dark copper dashboard trim (matte wood $500 extra), leather-piped floor mats and embossed head restraints.

The Sport Line ($1769 AWD or $2538 RWD) adds unique 19-inch alloys, removes silver trim while adding gloss black exhaust tips, roof rails and door mirror housings (the latter a no-cost option).

Inside are sports seats (with the same synthetic leather as base variants) and steering wheel, red contrast stitching, high-gloss black dashboard trim, ambient lighting and leather-piped floor mats.

Sport Line options include black or red leather upholstery ($2000) and aluminium interior trim ($346).

BMW has carried over the M Sport pack with the facelifted X1, costing $6075 on AWD variants (comes with leather upholstery) or $5152 on RWD variants (comes with Alcantara upholstery).

It comes with an aggressive body kit with rear diffuser, 18-inch alloys (19-inch items are $1800 extra), gloss black window frames and roof rails, aluminium trim for the dashboard, doors and centre console, sports seats and M-branded leather steering wheel, gear shifter and sill plates.

M-tuned sports suspension a deletable part of the pack and all-wheel-drive variants also include Performance Control, which brakes the inside rear wheel while sending drive to the outside rear wheel during cornering, to reduce understeer.

Notable options across the X1 range include a panoramic glass sunroof ($2308), 6.5-inch satellite-navigation system with voice control and Bluetooth audio streaming ($2231) and 8.8-inch sat-nav with 20gb music hard drive and i-Drive controller.

The $692 reversing camera option is only available when combined with one of the sat-nav system and the $550 front parking sensors.

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