New car report; The X Factor.
BMW claimed to have invented a market segment a decade or so ago, when they unveiled their original E53 X5, referring to it as a Sports Activity Vehicle.
Whether they did or didn't invent the segment is a mute point, but we can probably give them credit for raising the bar for lifestyle vehicles and doing something else they excel at; introducing yet another acronym with the use of the term SAV.
And what a success the SAV has been for them. Since the original X5 was launched back in '99, BMW has rolled out one SAV after another, to the point where today BMW is the world's most successful manufacturer of all-wheel drive vehicles in the premium segment, outselling Audi's quattro.
With X referring to their all-wheel-drive models, every fifth BMW sold is now an X model. Building on the success of the X5, X3 and rather weird looking X6, BMW has now presented us with their newest and smallest member of the X family, the X1.
And just to confuse the issue, not all X1's will be all-wheel-drive
For clarification, all-wheel-drive BMW's are now referred to as xDrive and two-wheel-drive models, which for the time being remain rear wheel drive, are called sDrive, (not to be confused with the thing that keeps crashing on your computer!)
The BMW X1 enters the New Zealand market with a choice of two four cylinder diesels. The 2.0 litre xDrive20d is powered by a 130kW common rail turbo diesel engine producing 350Nm of torque and consuming 6.2 litres of fuel per 100km. 0-100km/h is reached in 8.6 seconds.
The xDrive23d uses the same 2.0 litre M47 diesel engine, but thanks to twin turbocharging and a different injection and induction system, it produces 150kW of power and 400Nm of torque, while returning fuel consumption of 6.3L/100km. The xDrive23d sprints to 100km/h in 7.3 seconds.
Two petrol powered versions will be coming later in the year.
Timing is right for a small premium SAV. Many buyers have been downsizing their vehicles in recent times, with the small vehicle segment currently experiencing the biggest growth. Large Remuera tractors are seen as being socially unacceptable in some circles, but owners still require the practicality that they offer.
BMW Group New Zealand Managing Director, Mark Gilbert said the BMW X1 is an extremely "relevant" car for today's world, and particularly New Zealand.
"Offering sporty, lifestyle practicality combined with the world's most fuel-efficient engines, the BMW X1 epitomizes the BMW EfficientDynamics philosophy that you can have your cake and eat it too," he said.
Built in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the BMW X family resemblance is unmistakable, although the X1 also bears strong visual links to the 1 Series five door hatch, pumped full of steroids. And despite the 3 Series platform underpinnings, dash layout, cabin feel and dimensions also suggest it has more in common with the 1 Series.
It's compact, nimble and typical of BMW, feels solid and firm on the road
There's ample cargo space with luggage capacity of up to 1,350 litres, or 420 litres with the rear seats upright. Three full-sized rear seats split into three foldable sections with a split ratio of 40/20/40, so backrests can be folded into numerous folding configurations.
Standard features include cruise control with braking function, run flat tyres, USB interface, Bluetooth interface, a sports leather multi-function steering wheel, daytime running lights and automatic air-conditioning.
All models come standard with 17 inch alloys with a couple of different styles depending on model. Our test vehicle was fitted with optional Y Spoke 18 inch alloys. These are a $2,400 option, but in our opinion are too fussy and do nothing to enhance the X1's appearance.
Maximum braked trailer weight is rated at 1,400kg. When the full range arrives in New Zealand, pricing will range from $56,900 through to $80,900.