BMW X1: Farewell

  • BMW X1 leaves the Parkers test car fleet
  • After a slow start became a much-liked car
  • Is it really worth nearly £40,000, though?

I’m going to honest with you, readers. I didn’t much like the BMW X1 when it arrived. I thought it was too expensive, that its M Sport body kit looked a bit tacky (especially combined with the white paintwork and tinted windows), that the low-profile tyres looked silly against the car’s 4x4 body, that the boot was too small, the internet-connected media system largely pointless…

But in the intervening months the X1 and I bonded nicely and now that BMW has picked the car up I rather miss it.

Why the turnaround?

Firstly, the X1 was a fantastic motorway car. In a job that includes its fair share of trudging up and down the nation’s trunk roads the X1 became a relief to climb into after another late-night airport return.

The 181bhp 2.0-litre diesel 20d engine’s muscular performance made this a genuinely fast car, and actually more relaxing to drive as a result – you never had to work the car hard to get it up to speed and overtaking was a safe, stress-free affair.

Being able to store music on the in-built hard drive was a great feature, too and the brilliant stereo made it a pleasure to listen to music in the X1.

Apart from the annoyingly laggy sat-nav, the Professional multimedia system was impressive overall with crisp graphics and cleverly designed menus. I never once felt the need to use any of the internet functions though, except in the interests of finding out what they did.

I was a big fan of the interior, especially the M Sport aluminium trim on the dash and doors, although not all of the rest of the Parkers team were as keen. Less brilliant was the driver’s seat, which though largely comfortable, was a real fiddle to adjust.

Good to drive

I’d expected our X1’s ride quality to be pretty awful, considering this particular car’s large 19-inch wheels, low-profile tyres and M Sport suspension. It is firm, certainly, and doesn’t enjoy rough surfaces but body control is very good and on smoother tarmac it’s actually very comfortable. In fact, nearly every passenger commented (unprompted) on how comfy the car is.

My fuel economy figures were a bit disappointing, generally hovering around 39-41mpg rather than the official 52mpg. I think the occasions when I used the car for my short commute can take some of the blame for that though.

I never did try taking the X1 off-road (probably for the best) and didn’t get chance to try the hill-descent control either – there aren’t many hills in Peterborough.

What about all those options?

As we explained when the car arrived, our X1 was fitted with £8,845 worth of options, taking the overall price to a scary £39,800.

Reading through some of my earlier updates I’ve noticed that I said the Visibility Package was ‘well worth having.’ I’ve since reassessed this opinion; you’re probably better off saving yourself the £1,140. Apart from the headlight washers and possibly the auto-dimming interior mirror, none of it’s all that much use – the automatic high-beam assistant is slow to respond and the automatic wipers never worked very well. If you waited for them to spring into action by themselves the screen was usually awash with rain to the point that it was difficult to see through.

The parking sensors however, with audio warnings combined with a clear display on the multimedia screen, were brilliant, and I also became a big fan of the heated seats in winter.

I’m not completely convinced that a four-wheel drive xDrive model is necessary in the UK. Unless you live in a severely rural area, a rear-drive sDrive model with a set of winter tyres would probably get through most British winters without difficulty while being cheaper to buy, tax and fuel.


Worth the money?

The X1 is a bit more characterful than, and just as good to drive as, German rivals such as the VW Tiguan and Audi Q3, while having more of a premium feel than other competitors such as the Ford Kuga or the Nissan Qashqai.

Would I have liked it so much had it been a more lowly trim with a less powerful engine, though? Every positive thought was always counteracted by remembering that price … 39 grand! And to be absolutely frank, despite the nice interior, great engine and gearbox and all those toys, it never quite felt a match for the price tag.

If I were after a practical BMW, my money would go on a 3 Series Touring. It has lots more space, it’s better to drive and, to my eyes at least, it’s far nicer to look at. And a four-wheel drive 320d Touring in the same M Sport trim with the same engine would cost far less than our optioned-up X1.

Final mileage: 8,528

Fuel economy: 38.32 (calculated before final fill-up)

You can read the previous diary entries from our time with the BMW X1 below:

Could it work as a company car?

Have we got the pick of the range?

What’s on the inside counts

Too much of a good thing

Odds and ends

Safety first

How practical is it?

How economical?

Which options are worth having?

Are you sitting comfortably?

That’s infotainment

First impressions

Joins the fleet