BMW X1: Odds and ends

  • A round-up of some of our BMW X1’s foibles
  • Thoughtful iDrive features and gear layout impress
  • Why it needs bigger sun visors – and a bigger key

The BMW X1 has been with Parkers for some time now, so I thought for this update I’d take you through a round-up of some of the little things you begin to notice after spending a fair bit time in the car.

BMW X1 iDrive

Picking favourites

One useful facet of the multimedia system is that you can set not only radio stations as favourites on the eight preset buttons underneath the CD player but also menu functions and sat-nav destinations. For example, whenever I need to head home I now just hit preset button number eight and the sat-nav immediately begins guiding me to my home town.

It’s a little detail that’s much appreciated when you’re climbing into the car tired and just want to get going. The laggy sat-nav screen still frustrates though, taking an absolute age to zoom in and out.

You can set other functions as favourites too, such as contacts in your phone if you want.

BMW X1 automatic gear lever

One direction

One small but important detail that the X1 has absolutely right as far as I’m concerned is that the gear lever moves in the proper direction. Let me explain – when the transmission is in manual mode, it’s possible to shift through the eight gears by nudging the gear selector lever forwards and backwards.

Nothing unusual there, plenty of cars have that function but the majority are set up so that you change up a gear by moving the lever forwards and down by moving it backwards.

That always feels counterintuitive in practise and BMW obviously agrees because in the X1 it’s the proper way round: pull back for a higher gear, push forwards for a lower gear, like in a competition car.

So even though I leave the transmission in automatic mode for the vast majority of the time and when I do need or want to change gear manually I tend to use the paddles mounted behind the steering wheel, it’s still reassuring to know that the lever moves in a usable and well thought-through way.

BMW X1 one-touch indicators

Wrong direction

One thing that I really should have got used to after several thousand miles but haven’t are the one-touch indicators. Lots of current BMW vehicles have a similar setup, where the indicator and wiper stalks don’t click into different positions but instead always remain in one place and just need a nudge up or down to activate.

I must admit that even now I’ll occasionally exit a roundabout with the indicators winking one way and then the other as I attempt to cancel one signal and inadvertently switch the other on – embarrassing for me and confusing for the car behind.

I’ve seen a few other BMWs and Minis on the road doing the same thing so at least I’m not the only one. Switching off the triple turn signal function in the options menu, which triggers a three-flash pattern at one touch of the indicator stalk (presumably designed for lane changes on motorways) has helped.

Low-vis vex

One of the X1’s weaker points is its all-round visibility, which is actually quite obstructive and can make it a difficult car to manoeuvre in tight spaces. Thankfully the upgraded parking sensors on our test car (as part of the Driver Comfort package) really are excellent and are doing a great job so far.

The low winter sun has shown up the sun visors a bit too – there’s nothing wrong with them except that they could do with being a bit longer, as you frequently have to sit up in the seat and stretch your neck a bit to avoid being dazzled by the sun. Maybe the visors have been borrowed from another BMW model with a lower roofline.

Final point: the X1 could do with a more macho key. When we previously tested the range-topping BMW X5 M50d the X1 was well and truly upstaged in the key stakes:

BMW X5 key BMW X1 key

There’s not actually as big a jump in price between ‘our’ BMW X1 and a base-spec X5 as you might expect. With all its various optional extras this M Sport X1 20d is worth £39,840. The X5 range starts from £42,590.

For more information on the BMW X1, check out the Parkers full review.

Total mileage: 7,124 miles

Average fuel economy: 36.8mpg (calculated)