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Road test: We drive BMW's second-gen X1 in SA

2016-03-08 07:52

Cyril Klopper


BMW's SA-bound M2 was launched at California's Laguna Seca raceway, it was joined by its predecessors: the classic 2002 and the rare 1M.

George – When viewed from afar the second generation X1 hasn’t changed all that much when compared to the face-lifted version of the original X1.

The same basic low-slung crossover body is retained and when viewed from the side it is tricky to tell a 2016 and 2014 model apart. It is only once you walk round to the front that the differences become apparent.

The front bumper is more sculpted, the double kidney grille is larger, the headlights are narrower and the overall impression is far less cartoonish than the original 2010 model.

When you consider that BMW managed to sell more than 730 000 of these dinky crossovers worldwide, it is quite understandable that they opted for an evolutionary change rather than a revolution. After all, why mess with success?

Gallery: 2016 BMW X1

The roofline of the new X1 is 53mm taller than the outgoing model. This in turn allows the seating position to be raised by 36mm at the front and 64mm at the rear. Sitting slightly higher off the ground feels appropriate for an X model.

Additional exterior changes include black borders on the lower edge of the body and the squared contour of the wheel cut-outs.

The drive

As you’d expect from a BMW crossover; the X1 is far more suited to tar than dirt. To drive an X1 on a rutted gravel road is not a particularly pleasant experience as I discovered on the forestry trails in the Outeniqua Mountains.

After about an hour driving from George to Mossel Bay my body felt tired and abused. The punches to my kidneys didn’t cease until I reached the R328 with its smooth tarred surface that lead north though Jonkerberg Nature Reserve.

This is where the X1 belongs; on a quiet back road with a good surface and lots of sweeping bends to play in. There was almost no hint of body roll and the low profile tyres which punished me so cruelly earlier had now become my best friends.

My test vehicle, an xDrive20i with an 8-speed Steptronic gearbox, was a delight to drive. The all-wheel-drive system clung to the road like glue and engine power seemed inexhaustible through Robinson Pass.

Once the road straightened out I had to quickly check myself because the X1 had slipped well above the legal speed limit without me noticing. The X1 is therefore a crossover only in name. It prefers to play on tarred roads and although it can do farm roads, it’s not particularly pleased to get dirty.


The biggest changes were made to the interior. Where the previous model looked a bit plain, the new X1 features a generous amount of chrome and a 16.5cm touch screen with BMW’s iDrive operating system high up on the dashboard.

Standard features include, but are not limited to, electrically adjustable and heated exterior mirrors, rain sensor and automatic headlight control, additional 12V socket in the passenger footwell and central locking with remote control key (rechargeable while driving).

There is also Cruise Control with Brake Function, an alarm system with remote control, Isofix attachments for the two outer rear seats, dynamic stability control (DSC) & dynamic traction control (DTC) and run-flat tyres with passive tyre deflation monitor.

Optional extras include: Head-up display, full-LED headlights, Dynamic damper control, and the Driving Assist Plus system.

The BMW X1 can now also be specified with the Driving Assist Plus line-up of the Active Cruise Control system with Stop & Go function, Lane Departure Warning, Traffic Jam Assistant, Collision Warning and Approach control warning with City Braking function.

These systems are complemented by an up-to-the-minute selection of apps allowing customers to add to the car’s comfort, navigation and infotainment functionality, as desired.


The second generation BMW X1 is powered by a brand new selection of engines featuring BMW’s TwinPower Turbo technology. There are two petrol and one diesel unit – four cylinders all.

Outputs range from 100kW to 170kW. The engines link up with either a six-speed manual (sDrive 18i and sDrive20d only) or an eight-speed Steptronic unit (standard in all xDrive models and six-speed Steptronic unit in sDrive18i only).

sDrive18i 6-speed Manual Transmission -R435 000
sDrive18i 6-speed Auto Steptronic -R452 400
sDrive20i 8-speed Auto Steptronic - R492 000
sDrive20d 6-speed Manual Transmission - R479 500
sDrive20d 8-speed Auto Steptronic - R498 400
xDrive20i 8-speed Auto Steptronic - R539 500
xDrive20d 8-speed Auto Steptronic - R557 500
xDrive25i 8-speed Auto Steptronic - R602 500

On top of the standard models BMW also offer Sport Line, xLine and M Sport packages. The Sport Line and xLine adds roughly R20 000 to the base price of each standard model while the M Sport package ads about R40 000 on to the base price. An sDrive18i 6-speed MT Sport Line for instance costs R459 000 while an xDrive25i M Sport costs R639 400.

All new BMWs sold in South Africa include a 5 year/100 000 km Motorplan maintenance contract. This covers all service, maintenance and repairs resulting from normal wear and tear, excluding tyres and fuel.

BMW On Call roadside assistance is supported in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland.

Read more on:    bmw  |  cyril klopper  |  south africa  |  road test  |  new models

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