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Week at the wheel: BMW X1 xDrive20d. Image by BMW.

Week at the wheel: BMW X1 xDrive20d
The SUV thing worked out quite nicely for BMW with the X5, so here's the concentrated version.


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| Week at the Wheel | BMW X1 xDrive20d |

Inside & Out: star star star star star

What's striking about the X1 is just how thoughtful the cabin is. It's probably below expectations in terms of plastic quality for what is, by any measure, quite an expensive car. But the little touches, like the rubberised cubbyhole surfaces and elastic ties in the door pockets, make the X1 a delightful middle England runabout.

It doesn't have quite as much rear legroom as you might want if the back seats will regularly support occupied child seats or tall adults, but the X1 nonetheless feels spacious. That's probably to do with the amount of headroom there is and the distance the front seat runners seem to extend backwards; anybody can get comfy in the driver's seat. The boot is big too, and the rear seats split for convenience.

Engine & Transmission: star star star star star

There's no doubting the prowess and pedigree of BMW's 2.0-litre diesel engine, but here it seems choked. That's an issue we noted during our first drive of the car about a year ago, and it's one that remains having spent more time with it. The 177bhp four-cylinder unit feels neither as quick nor smooth through the revs as it does elsewhere in BMW's range.

But the manual six-speed gearbox is one of the best to use around. It has a springy feel through the gate that makes it snap easily from one ratio to the next. Our only real criticism concerns sixth, which would benefit from being taller so that the car settles on the motorway at a lower engine speed.

Ride & Handling: star star star star star

Most people could make do with an sDrive 20d, rather than the four-wheel drive xDrive we have here; opting for the former bestows buyers with the unique distinction of owning a rear-wheel drive SUV. Either way, though, the X1 handles with the sporty edge you'd expect of a BMW. That's to say that it could perhaps do with a little more subtlety over gravely roads - a little more give - but that it corners without the body roll of most high-riding SUVs. On the drive the X1 looks very compact, and through corners it feels it.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: star star star star star

All X1s are SE spec (until the M Sport models arrive), which means that all get climate control and alloy wheels as standard. However, expect to pay handsomely to get your X1 to junior executive standard. For example, to add leather seats, satellite navigation and metallic paint to any version adds about 3,000. That would take our particular test car close to 30k. Ouch.

It is economical, however. The xDrive20d returns 48.7mpg, though if you ditch the four-wheel drive you'll get 53.3mpg - another reason to do so. Start-stop is standard and it works well. Some systems we've tried aren't even warmed up enough to work by the time you've got where you're going.

Overall: star star star star star

BMW's X1 is a car as easy to recommend as it is to pick fault with. You might expect a 30,000 Beemer to have more soft-touch surfaces, a quieter engine and more equipment, but the X1 is nonetheless excellent family transport. It feels spacious, is good to drive, economical and practical. In terms of feeling big but actually being small - a very trendy quality at the moment - it's spot on. Buy the cheapest one you can live with.

Mark Nichol - 21 Oct 2010    - BMW road tests
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2010 BMW X1 specifications: (xDrive 20d SE)
Price: 26,260 on-the-road
0-62mph: 8.4 seconds
Top speed: 127mph
Combined economy: 48.7mpg
Emissions: 153g/km
Kerb weight: 1650kg

2010 BMW X1. Image by BMW.2010 BMW X1. Image by BMW.2010 BMW X1. Image by BMW.2010 BMW X1. Image by BMW.2010 BMW X1. Image by BMW.

2010 BMW X1. Image by BMW.2010 BMW X1. Image by BMW.2010 BMW X1. Image by BMW.2010 BMW X1. Image by BMW.2010 BMW X1. Image by BMW.

2010 BMW X1. Image by BMW.

2010 BMW X1. Image by BMW.

2010 BMW X1. Image by BMW.

2010 BMW X1. Image by BMW.

2010 BMW X1. Image by BMW.

2010 BMW X1. Image by BMW.


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