THEY SAY TIME flies when you’re having fun. Well, 12 months and 19500 kilometres in the X1 have flown by and there have definitely been some fun moments along the way. Every time I gave the throttle a good workout, the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot would work its frenzied way up to 5000rpm and deliver 180kW of Bavarian bravado. I also took much pleasure from answering many a stranger’s query regarding the car’s unusual paint colour with a well-timed ‘nuclear poop’.
Yes, there were some initial disappointments such as having to endure all the diesel jokes resulting from the petrol-fed 28i’s clattery idle and unflattering exhaust note. It did settle down a little over time and the idiosyncrasy appears to have been resolved with the recent update (see sidebar). Our X1 arrived adorned with more than R130k worth of optional extras, providing ample opportunity to offer a few hopefully useful tips for those contemplating a new X1 of their own. And the two nuggets I will readily share are take care of the two areas constantly in contact with your car – your hands and your rear end. So 1) tick the box that says sports steering wheel and sports seats. As for the exterior, the X1 needs all the help it can get visually. So 2) get the biggest wheels your wallet can afford. Our X1 wore the standard 17-inchers that, to a degree, did help offset the ride comfort deficit of rolling on stiff-walled run-flat tyres. As an aside, I picked up a puncture early on in the year, but a cost-saving plug has proved a permanent fix.
Although not all that visually promising at first, the cabin build quality has been exceptional. Apart from an isolated rattle in the rear-view mirror housing, the car feels as unbreakable as the day it arrived with just 171km on the odo. The Nevada beige leather trim has stood up well, discolouring only slightly on the driver’s seat as it only ever sees denim.
For those interested in fuel consumption, I’ve averaged 10.8ℓ/100km, a figure that has remained stubbornly constant throughout. I am sure it could’ve been in the nines had I managed to resist the temptation to tackle twisting freeway on-ramps at enthusiastic speeds whilst revelling in the copious levels of all-wheel drive grip. Although the X1 is billed as a Sports Activity Vehicle as opposed to an off-roader, I did give its xDrive system a thorough trial in the snow-covered tracks and challenging river crossings of the Matroosberg reserve. It coped admirably but ultimately its off-road potential is hampered by a ground clearance better suited to mall speed bumps than rock-hopping antics. Still, it’s good to know the traction is there should you unexpectedly need it.
Despite early reservations, the X1 has grown on me considerably. Perhaps it’s the prestige of the badge allied to surprising pace and an absolute confidence in its reliability that has me saddened at its departure. After driving a well-specced new one for two weeks, I’m left wishing I could keep it for another year.
ODO READING AT START/NOW / 171/19653km
DISTANCE COVERED / 19482km
FUEL CONSUMED / 2095.31ℓ
AV. FUEL CONSUMPTION / 10.76ℓ/100km
SERVICE INTERVAL / According to OBC
SERVICE COST / covered by 5-year/100000km maintenance plan
TOTAL FUEL COST / R23404.68
RUNNING COST / R1.20/km
X1: Round Two
About halfway through our year with the X1, BMW revealed a strategically improved version. Just before our ‘old’ 28i went back to its maker, the new one arrived for comparison. Immediately notable is it no longer sounds like a diesel on start-up or idle – still not silky, but more refined and less frenzied through the gears too, though no less rapid when pushed. I’m also happy to report that the steering still has a meaty weight to it, something missing in most new cars.
Best of all, BMW has given the cabin just the right tweaks to boost perceived quality. While a few of the disappointing, hollow-sounding plastics remain, it’s amazing what a few chrome accents, a redesigned centre console housing and well-chosen colour and trim can do. Our 28i Sport test car was decked out in fetching Nevada Black leather with contrasting pin-striping. It’s definitely the combo to go for. I also spotted a new mirror housing, presumably to make it less prone to rattles.
Not a lot different, but the changes do effectively address all my areas of concern. Job well done.