IN THIS business in which I work, it’s seen as a badge of honour to own a car; one you don’t need, that you rarely drive, and receives none of the love and attention that you originally promised it.
It’s why the easiest way to spot me in a crowded room of motoring journos is to look for the rumpled bloke with the pebble-crete complexion and zero badges of honour.
The last car I did buy, purely for my own pleasure, was way back when my head of hair was thick, and my Nokia phone even thicker. It was an E30 BMW 323i, a car which did see ample love, at least until I was love-tapped into a stout tree on Sydney’s lower north shore.
Anyway, according to research regarding buyer loyalty, that car makes me a prime candidate to purchase another BMW, which is the hypothetical I find myself immersed in here, as the BMW X1 stands cleaned and fuelled, and ready to return to its maker.
So would I? Let’s start with the positives, of which there are plenty. The overall dimensions and packaging were spot-on for me: ample load area with the seats folded, or sufficient room for my leggy teenage daughter behind my driving position. The X1 never feels cramped, yet is still sufficiently compact to feel wieldy in tight spaces.
Then there was the feel-good factor, both literally in terms of seating and comfort, as well as that little inner glow when you slide into a well-built, nicely appointed car. I found the driving position, seat support, oddment storage, instrument clarity, and general user friendliness of the thing difficult to fault.
More credits in the powertrain department, too. The extra urge of the high-output 2.0-litre turbo was always nice to have. Its refinement and eagerness is superb. Perfect throttle calibration, super smooth, and happy to chase the 6500rpm redline.
It’s not overtly sporty sounding, but that was never an issue for me; I was happy to enjoy the near-lag-free delivery, plucking ratios via the paddles, and surfing along on that generous wedge of torque.
The thumpy ride is really the only dynamic demerit, and could be improved by ditching the run-flats. The steering is not perfect in terms of providing a completely natural connection, but it’s still very good – well-weighted, quick-witted, and with a reassuring self-centering action. Likewise the fine body control on the adaptive dampers; chassis essentials which should be standard, but are at least priced right.
All this sounds like a no-brainer, right? Apart from the small matter of its SUV-ness, that is. I never went near an unsealed road, and I suspect most buyers never will.
Which leaves me still as a committed rear-drive wagon lover, and eyeing the $14,000 more expensive 330i Touring as the current BMW I’d really love, but sadly don’t need.
Read part two of our BMW X1 xDrive25i long-term review here!