2010 BMW X1
16th Feb 2011 8:00 am
BMW’s baby SUV does not have the stance of an SUV
The X1’s handling is somewhere between a saloon and an SUV, which is to be expected from what is essentially a raised 3-series. On its taller springs, the X1 rides quite comfortably as well and feels a touch more compliant than a 3-series. The suspension works silently for the most part and the X1 takes poorly surfaced sections quite easily in its stride. Sharp ridges and expansion joints though do catch out the suspension which can’t soak up jagged surfaces that easily. Also, there is a fair amount of vertical movement and on an uneven surface, the X1 doesn’t have as flat and consistent a ride as we would have liked.
There is a tad more body roll in corners than a 3-series, but the X1 turns in keenly and hunkers down, making it a delight on a winding road. Few cars, let alone SUVs can offer the same level of engagement. Grip from the 225 wide tyres is simply phenomenal, allowing you to corner with astonishing speed. The torquey engine which drives the rear wheels lets you balance the X1 on the throttle through corners but even with the traction control completely switched off, it’s hard to break traction. With its decent clearance, the X1 can be driven quite easily on dirt roads and it’s on loose surfaces that you can put the X1 sideways and truly enjoy its brilliant chassis balance.
The steering is surprisingly heavy and at low speeds, it feels there is no power assistance. It’s not effortless to steer like a CR-V and this may bother buyers on the lookout for an urban runabout. Also, the steering feels a touch wooden about the straight-ahead position and it’s only when you’ve given it a flick of the wrist that it comes into its own and delivers the pin-sharp accuracy that has made BMWs special. The brakes are utterly brilliant too and just add to the joy of driving.