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First drive: 40 MPG 2010 BMW X1 xDrive20d - VIDEO ENHANCED

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BMW enters premium compact segment right in time


By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
Amsterdam Bureau
The Auto Channel

LEIPZIG - September 26, 2009: Last year at the Paris auto show, when BMW unveiled the X1 Concept, we got a good view on what to expect of the future production model. Right now it rolls off the assembly line and a couple of days ago, I could drive the X1 xDrive20d, a mouth full indeed, but that’s what it’s called.

It was still too early for a test drive with the xDrive28i with the six-cylinder engine. At the moment, the xDrive28i is the only model confirmed to arrive on the North American market in the 2011 calendar year, but in which month is not clear yet.

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With the new X1, that BMW calls an SAV sports activity vehicle, just like the X5 and X3, the Germans are entering the competitive premium compact segment.

As the name indicated, the X1 is smaller than the X3 and somewhat bigger than the 1 Series Coupe. With a 4 inches longer wheelbase than of the 1 Series, it is 3.5 inches longer, 5.5 in. taller and 2 in. wider, but it is still not large.

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On the outside the new crossover (between an SUV and a station wagon) benefits from the extra inches with more balanced and sporty look than both the 1 Series and the X3. Of course, the interior space is somewhat less than that of the X3. I always try to sit ‘behind my own steering position and there is still ample space for my legs, which means that somebody some 5 inches taller than my own 5 ft 6 will still be o.k. while there will also still be enough head room.
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The capacity of the luggage compartment of 14.8 cu.ft. can be extended to 4.6 cu.ft by folding the rear seats flat. Under the floor is storage space of some about 2 inches high, that can be formed into smaller sections by the optional divider.

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Anyone, who has driven a new BMW lately will immediately feel at home, when entering the X1’s cockpit. The layout is familiar, the dashboard and center console have well placed controls and the materials are of a high quality. As we know from the new BMW models, also the X1 has standard equipment with 17-inch wheels, air conditioning, height-adjustable driver and front passenger seats, a leather steering wheel, Harman/Kardon audio system with Aux-in connections for external audio.

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Front and side airbags as well as side head curtain airbags for the front and rear seats are also standard. All seats have automatic seat belts, up front with belt force limiters and a belt latch tensioner. Also ISOFIX child seat fastening points for the rear seats come as standard. All occupant restraint systems are controlled by the X1’s central safety electronics. As with the other BMW Series, also the X1 gets extensive optional equipment. For full details I refer to the BMW x1 ARTICLE (Includes Video) The Auto Channel published earlier this summer .

xDrive and sDrive

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The X1 is the first X-model that BMW offers with both xDrive all-wheel drive and with sDrive rear wheel drive. That makes a lot of sense, as mostly owners in warmer climates will not need an all-wheel drive vehicle. During bad weather and road circumstances, the standard DSC, including ABS, ASC, DBC, DTC and Performance Control will be able to keep the car in the right track.

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In Europe, the X1 sDrive will be available as the 18i and 18d and 20d, with 150, 143 and 177 hp respectively. The xDrive models come with a choice of three diesel engines, the 18d, 20d 23d and one gasoline motor, the 28i.

The only model available for the States will be the xDrive28i with the 3.0-liter straight-six motor, that has 258 hp and 228 lb-ft of torque between 2,600 and 3,000 rpm. This should be able to accelerate from 0-62 mph in 6.8 seconds and offer a top speed of 205 km/h or 127 mph (230 km/h or 143 mph with optional high-speed set-up). BMW claims its fuel economy to be 9.4 liter per 100 km or 25 mpg for the combined cycle.


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Our 177 hp strong 2.0-liter 4-cylinder diesel engine has a turbocharger with variable intake geometry and common-rail fuel injection. Two-liter may look relatively small for the 3,470 lbs weight of the X1. But the high torque (258 lb-ft), typical for a diesel, gives it enough power to make the X1 respond willingly and quickly to pressure on the throttle, especially in the range from 1,750 to 3,000 rpm, at which its maximum torque is available.

The X1 xDrive20d automatic accelerates in 8.6 seconds from zero to 96 mph and reaches a top speed of 127 mph. The nearly 200 lbs lighter sDrive20d should complete the sprint even faster: in 8.1 seconds. You will have to take it for granted we did not verify these numbers on the two lane roads of our German test route. Nor could we reach the top speed on the Autobahn close to Leipzig with its long stretch of 120 km/h (75 mph) limit.

The X1 is equipped with EfficientDynamics technology, such as brake energy regeneration and a detachable a/c compressor, plus a newly developed power divider with optimized efficiency for the xDrive all-wheel-drive system. For our xDrive 20d the measures result in an average fuel consumption (in the European cycle) of 5.8 liters/100 kilometer, or 40.5 mpg.

On and off
Even though the X1 is not a large car, it has a long bonnet, but the higher seating position makes you feel in control with a good view on the road. The rear window, however, provides a more restricted view and in combination with the wide C-pillar makes parking along the curb, or backing up more difficult.

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Upon returning the test car we realized that the X1 is the first all-wheel drive model that neither my colleague nor I drove off road. Our test road simply did not offer us any opportunity. But soft off-roading should not be a problem and with a ground clearance of 6.6 inches the X1 must be able to drive on dirt trails and through shallow ditches.

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On the road the X1 drives well, feels stable and turns into corners with enthusiasm. You do not notice a trace of it’s all-wheel drive that provides good grip. During the emergency lance-change exercise, the car showed little body roll and was easy and fast to maneuver back to its own lane without any resistance. Steering is precise and quick enough for an all-wheel drive, weighty car. In short, the X1 is a well executed, fun and easy to drive vehicle, with the right size for the cramped European roads and parking spaces. In the US it is perfectly suited for urban driving, while it will offer enough comfort for the long haul as well.

Just in time
BMW seems to hit the nail on the head again with the launch of a complete new model with the right size at the right time.

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The Bavarians realized at the start of the financial crisis that the X1 would meet the need for down sizing and fuel efficiency and speeded up the development time of the X1 by 40 per cent.

This was possible because the Leipzig plant, where the X1 is built, is not only brand new – it started production in march 2005 – but also very flexible. It builds the 3 series sedan, 1 series three-door, coupe and convertible and now the X1. All models leave the assembly line in a mixed sequence. It enables BMW to match demand of the markets in an optimal way without running the risk of over production.