It’s hard to believe it is 4 months since I collected the X1 and even harder to believe I have covered 9500 miles in that time but here we are.
Arriving to collect the car I was greeted by stunning sunshine reflecting off of the beautiful sunset orange paintwork and I knew I had made the right colour choice straight away. When the sun is shining it is a bright metallic orange which turns to a dark burnt orange when the sun drifts back behind the clouds. In a sea of grey, black and white cars it really stands out. I even like the chrome accents which work against the bright colour.
I collected the car the day before I went into hospital for 3 nights of isolation whilst I received Radioiodine Therapy for Thyroid Cancer so hardly got to enjoy the car at all before it was parked up in a hospital carpark but then it was straight into action with several long journeys over a few days which helped pass the running in process quickly.
I exercised restraint and stuck to the 1200 mile recommended running in period increasing the revs and load on the engine slowly just as you should. Having come straight from the X2 with the 20d engine my first observation was the petrol engine was down on torque and far quicker to need to kickdown that the diesel which is as you would expect. It wasn’t short on performance but it was noticeable especially during the running in process where you need to remain below 4500-5000rpm. Since the running in period cleared and especially the more miles I’ve put on the car I’ve been extremely impressed with the performance of the petrol motor.
Just to recap it is the 20i x-drive in X-line spec so has a 192hp 2.0l twin scroll turbocharged engine with four wheel drive. It pulls smoothly and cleanly from about 2000rpm and gains some decent pace from about 4500rpm onwards. Overtakes are over very quickly, particularly below motorway speeds and there is plenty of poke to have some fun on a nice road. 0-60 is dispatched in 7.2 seconds and vmax is reportedly 139mph. One of the biggest surprises has been the exhaust noise. I never for a minute thought a 4 pot family car would sound decent but at around 3000rpm under load it makes a farty little warble from the back end. This with the woosh from the turbo and the wastegate dumping the unused pressure off throttle it made me giggle like a school kid for weeks. It’s no supercar, or hot hatch even but the fact it makes any noise that’s not just a plain old 4 cyclinder racket is a massive bonus to a petrol head.
This engine and drive train combination only come in automatic form and that was fine by me. In 9500 miles I’ve learned a lot about the gearbox and for the most part it is smooth, quick to react and manual changes are quick and exactly when you ask for them. The main weak spot comes when you are approaching a roundabout or slow bend. In standard mode for both gearbox and engine as you are in the majority of the time, if you approach slowly it assumes you are coming to a stop so when you go to move away it takes time to find the right gear and is slow to move off resulting in some concerning moments. It’s something I have experienced with other manufacturer autos but frustrating none the less. In Sport Mode for either gears or engine it is ready to go and quick to react in the same situation but you don’t want to be having to change settings for each roundabout you come accross. Approaching at a faster rate or stopping completely are no problem at all, it’s that sub 10mph approaching which catches it out.
The gearbox has a sport mode but I find the changes too aggressive giving you a harsh fake kick in the back on changes which is why I don’t use it on island approaches despite it being easily selected, just a knock of the shifter to the left. For sportier driving the gearbox is plenty quick enough in either manual mode using paddles or in sport engine mode and standard gearbox and these are the necessary settings for backroad driving whether you are on it or not. There have been a few times where the gearbox has been in a bad mood and seems to jerk far more than normal but this has been sporadic and only a handful of occasions.
The engine has three modes, Eco, Comfort and Sport. Eco dulls the throttle reponsiveness, reduces the strength of the air conditioning and gives you hints on how to reduce fuel consumption. It’s also much quicker to change up a gear, is more keen to use start/stop and off throttle, quickly enters a coasting mode to save fuel. Mated to this particular engine however for me it dulls things too much to be used very often. I’ve only really used it on a couple of long journeys to Cornwall predominantly for the coasting mode and where you aren’t wanting brisk acceleration very often. Otherwise it makes the car feel slow and lethargic. Comfort mode is good for most scenarios with balance throttle response and gear changes. Sport mode immediately drops a gear and the engine is far more ready to go at any speed, so much so it is not really advisable around town because it makes pulling away or speeding up smoothly very difficult. Out of town it optimises the car to pull quickly and smoothly through the gears whether under full or partial throttle. The steering is artificially weighted up, a little too much for my personal tastes, and stop/start deactivated.
As I mentioned above, this is the X-Drive model so has four wheel drive. Traction is pretty much absolute in the dry with this much power and excellent in the wet. Having taken delivery of the car at the beginning of one of the driest summers on record here in the UK it’s been difficult to test but with some rainy days of late I have discovered the traction off the line is impeccable. Even being extremely aggressive accelerating hard in turns you only get a hint of slip before some the power is sent to the back wheels to prevent any loss of traction whatsoever and that is the only time you can tell it is doing anything at all. Even a full launch control in soaking conditions which requires traction control to be in dynamic mode gave no slip whatsoever. Yes, a family SUV has launch control!!
Coming from a Diesel car previously I was little concerned as to what fuel consumption would be like but I have been pretty pleased on that front. It does vary a lot depending on driving style, more so than any car I have owned previously and I have seen consumption ranging from 27-47 mpg. An average day to day where I saw around 37-38mpg in my previous diesel car has turned out to be around 33-35mpg in the X1 which for a four wheel drive 2.0l turbo petrol suv I am pleased with. On a run to Cornwall at pretty brisk motorway speeds I saw over 40 mpg and if you stick to 60-70 mph late 40’s is easily achievable. On a mix of town driving and having some fun on some b-roads mid to high 20’s is where it’s at but that’s where you are exercising the turbo the most so to be expected.
So what is it like to drive? Very good, actually. The main reason I was so keen to choose it after my initial test drive was because it felt more like a small hatchback than an SUV and a decent handling one at that. There’s not much body roll for a car of this type and it feels quite agile on a windy road. Sure, M-Sport suspension would keep things in check further but the trade off in ride quality makes the comfort suspension the better choice most of the time. Where it really shines is how stable it is at motorway speeds. Even with strong crosswinds at high speed you could steer and keep the car straight with your little finger and mix in with that the comfortable supportive seats I have driven for 6 hours and felt refreshed at the other end which is high praise. Again the M-Sport seats are a little more supportive in the bends but I found the base quite uncomfortable on the X2 and much prefer the comfort setup.
Practicality wise it does lose out a bit on the space front to its rivals such as the Ford Kuga and VW Tiguan but it is plenty big enough for 4 people and a weeks luggage as I put to the test a couple of weeks ago. comfortably covering 1100 miles in a week with no complaints. For those slightly more compact dimensions you gave the more agile sporty feel so that suits me perfectly. It is fairly quiet at motorway speeds as well.
Where it is way ahead of its less premium rivals is material quality. Everything is rock solid with no squeaks or rattles and feels nice to touch. There was one exception to this and that was an irritating squeak from the drivers seat over minor undulations. I tried to narrow down where it was coming from to no avail and didn’t fancy getting it booked in for something so small, but it seems now to have completely disappeared which pretty much confirms my assumption it was the new leather. My biggest disappointment with the car was the steering wheel which after being spoiled with the M-Sport wheel in the X2, felt thin, flimsy and looked and felt cheap and completely at odds with the otherwise quality interior. I’d definitely specify the M-Sport wheel if I had the chance again. As the thing you touch and interact with the most in a car as a driver it is important it looks and feels nice to use. The other things I would have liked to specify was the larger alloy wheels because whilst the 18″ alloys fitted have a nice diamond cut design they do look a little small on a car like this.
Big plus points for me on the equipment front are the LED headlights which literally turn night to day and the infotainment system which is intuitive and comprehensive and doesn’t even look too bad on the smaller standard screen fitted to my car. I was concerned it would look terrible after seeing the Pro nav with the larger screen but it doesn’t and has the majority of the functions. I’d still have preferred the Pro nav but it’s a significant cost that I couldn’t justify. The only option I did specify was the Privacy Glass which tints the rear windows and I am so glad I did because aesthetically it looks much better and it keeps the sun off my 3 year old daughter on hot days as well as keeping the cabin cooler for when you return to the car on a sunny afternoon.
So I’m 9500 miles in to my time with the X1 and so far I’m very pleased. It is the ideal car for a small family who require practicality with a driver who enjoys driving spiritedly for pleasure and takes pride in what they drive. No faults so far and tyre wear seems good and we’re still 8500 miles from its first service. Fingers crossed things stay as rosy as they have been in this first 4 months. With Autumn and Winter approaching I’m looking forward to seeing how the X1 deals with less clement conditions. I will of course keep you updated on here so make sure you subscribe to not miss a post and like and comment to tell me what you think below.