Say goodbye to driving a car where you can’t see over the steering wheel! 31



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Why would you buy the latest BMW X1?

Because it’s better looking than the previous model which had an over-long bonnet with the new model better proportioned and bearing a closer resemblance to its big brother X5.

It’s taller, wider yet shorter than the old model and has a much larger cargo area, up 20 percent or 85 litres. As a consequence, the cabin feels roomier than before with more head and legroom.

The reason people buy SUVs is because they want to drive off-road, right? Wrong. Research shows that when it comes to a couple buying a car, it’s the woman who has the final say. It also shows that women love the high driving position that SUVs provide.

The new design of the X1 delivers this with a higher driving position than before as well as a cabin that feels more upmarket than previously with a traditional BMW layout.

There’s plenty of soft touch, quality plastics with a tablet-style screen on the dash controlled by latest iDrive rotary dial which gives access to the car’s information and entertainment systems.

If you love the smell of genuine leather in a luxury car then the bad news is only the most expensive model, the xDrive25i, has it as standard with man-made leather standard on the rest although the real thing can be optioned for $1690.

Why wouldn’t you buy one?

Because BMW has put up the prices with the entry-level X1 sDrive18d diesel increasing by $3200 to $49,500 while the two wheel drive sDrive20i petrol equivalent is $51,600, the all-wheel-drive xDrive20d diesel $56,500 and the xDrive25i petrol $59,900.


Any other reasons?

Tyre noise, which is more obtrusive than it should be on anything other than perfectly smooth road surfaces. This is due to the run-flat tyres – there’s no spare – fitted.

The suspension is also firmer that you might expect and can become jittery on rough roads, thumping over decent sized ruts.

Put another way, it might be a sports utility vehicle but its real home is the city and suburbs and not the bush.

The prices might have gone up but so have the standard features with BMW arguing that the cost of the standard inclusions more than outweighs the price rise.

All models now have a standard equipment list that includes satellite navigation, a reversing camera, parking sensors, 18-inch wheels, a powered tailgate and various infotainment apps.

There are also driver aids such as lane departure warning, emergency braking and self-parking.

I drove the XDrive25i petrol which provided excellent performance and worked nicely with the standard eight speed automatic transmission.

The steering is sharp, there’s little body roll and apart from that tyre noise which I guess, you would stop noticing after a while, it provides an enjoyable driving experience.

The competition in the form of the Mercedes-Benz GLA, Audi Q3 and Lexus NX200t is fierce but the likelihood is that the BMW X1 will continue the appeal which has made it one of the company’s most successful models.

What the most important feature of a car for you? Share your thoughts below.


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This article was written by renowned journalist and author, Mike O’Connor. His most recent book Life on a Column is a wry, amusing and sometimes poignant look at life as seen through the eyes of a newspaper columnist and according to Mike, would make an excellent Christmas gift. Click here to purchase.

Mike O'Connor

Mike O’Connor is a Brisbane-based motoring writer, travel writer and columnist. He’s driven hundreds of different cars, travelled widely and mingled with famous people, none of whom, he confesses, can remember meeting him.

  1. I read the article,(twice) and could not find any reference to seeing over the steering wheel. The article does not match the headline. Anyway, if you can’t see over the steering wheel, you can lower it. My husband did that for me, & problem solved

    4 REPLY
    • Hi Maureen Hogan a number of times throughout the article, Mike talks about a higher seat and how women need this in a car 🙂 cheers

    • Starts at 60 , it says higher driving position not higher seat, the higher position relates to it being a four wheel drive and does not indicate that the seat height will accommodate those vertically challenged. I do accept that many modern vehicles do provide some height adjustment but there’s nothing to suggest this vehicle is any better than any other.

  2. BMW? Sorry, a car is a box on wheels with a motor of some kind that gets you from place to place. $59,000 and more? On my small super and part pension – you have to be joking.

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