BMW X1: Safety first

  • We take a closer look at our X1’s safety equipment
  • There’s plenty of hidden safety technology at work
  • Optional High-beam Assistant is a little slow to react

Like many modern cars, our long-term BMW X1 is fitted with a large amount of safety technology. Let’s have a look at exactly what’s going on behind the scenes on an average run to the shops.

Firstly, to keep you from overcooking it on a tight corner there’s a host of computer programming at work in the background with acronyms such as DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) and CBC (Cornering Braking Control) working in conjunction with one another to avoid wheelspin or trigger light braking on individual wheels to trim the car’s line when required.

As our X1 is an xDrive (four-wheel drive) model, the engine’s power can be shuffled unevenly between the four wheels to whichever tyre needs it most.

Speaking of tyres, certain models with alloy wheels (such as the 19-inch M Sport wheels on our test car) are fitted with run-flat tyres which have reinforced sidewalls. This means a marginally firmer, less comfortable ride but means you may be able to limp home rather than remain stranded at the side of the road if you pick up a puncture. Depending on the type of tyre fitted you could be able to cover 90 miles at up to 50mph.

That said, it means there’s no spare wheel so you’ll have to visit a dealership or tyre outlet to get a damaged run-flat replaced.

BMW X1 run flat tyres

BMW also says the bumpers absorb impacts at up to 2.5mph without damage but we don’t plan to test this.

If the worst does happen and you bump into something at rather more than 2.5mph, there are six airbags (two in the front, two in the rear and two side airbags in the front seat backrests) and the X1 also features a function called BMW Emergency Call. Crash sensors automatically trigger a telephone call to the company’s call centre, who then speak to the car’s occupants to determine if they need help. The call also uses GPS to determine the car’s location, which can be passed on to the emergency services.

You can also trigger the emergency call manually by pressing a button near the top of the windscreen. It’s underneath a cover flap so you’re unlikely to press it by mistake.

BMW X1 emergency call SOS button

The headlights cleverly swivel towards the inside of a bend when the steering wheel is turned beyond a certain amount, something I’ve found useful when turning onto my narrow driveway in the dark.

Our test car has one bit of safety kit that’s not standard. Part of the £1,140 ‘Visibility’ package mentioned in a previous update is the High-beam Assistant, which uses an image sensor in front of the rear view mirror to keep track of outside light levels and traffic ahead. If there is no traffic and light levels are low it automatically switches the headlights to high-beam, and vice-versa if it detects any other vehicles or if light levels improve.

It’s a useful system in principal but in practise it just doesn’t respond quickly enough – if there’s any traffic ahead you find yourself reaching for the dipped beam switch before the system registers, and likewise once the traffic has passed you’ll be driving in darkness for several seconds before the high beam returns. I’ve ended up disabling the system in the iDrive’s options menu as I feel much happier switching between high- and low-beam myself.

Do you drive a BMW X1? Why not tell others of your experience of the car in our Owners’ Reviews section?

Total mileage: 6,646 miles

Average fuel economy: 36.3mpg