BMW X1: Offroading in God's own country

TAMINGTERRAIN At any time, in any gear, the 8-speed automatic transmission collaborates perfectly with the engine
Last Updated 19 March 2013, 21:09 IST

The road was rough, the weather sultry. It is the beginning of the summer months and Kerala, God’s Own Country, was more than inviting for a quick visit. It was an arena best suited to test the mettle of a new machine, and German automobile behemoth BMW did just that, when it selected Kochi to showcase its new BMW X1.

Just along the backwaters, outside Kochi, the company had meticulously designed and laid a special dirt-track, where enthusiasts and customers could test the brilliance of the X1 for themselves last weekend. On reaching Kochi and beholding the new X1, one couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the charm that the overall sleek stance the car exudes.

Described as a premium compact Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV), the BMW X1 boasts of tremendous versatility, exceptional driving dynamics and smooth design. What is really new this time is that the car is available in two individual styles: the adventurous and agile BMW xLine, and the athletic and dynamic BMW Sport Line.

First Look

As the cliché goes: “The first impression is always the best impression.” The first impression of getting a glimpse of the new X1 is not independent of the statement. The car begins to impress you from the beginning itself. Though smaller than many other competitors in related segments, the X1 does prove a point with its power-packed, compact appearance.

The design is elegant, yet sporty. Its exterior displays ascending lateral lines, a long wheelbase and short overhangs, which make its look all the more impressive. The company designers have been sensitive to people’s tastes and aesthetics, providing the X1’s body with fresh design elements comprising of a new front apron, LED headlights, bumpers in body colour and side indicators integrated into the exterior mirrors.

Twenty crazy enthusiasts, seven cars and one rough track. After a quick briefing, it was time to hit the throttle and depart for the track, one car following the other. The track was at some distance from an upscale hotel, which had become the starting grid for all drivers.

One fascinating feature about German cars is the way they are built: strong, rugged, almost tank-like. Just open the door of the X1 and shut it and you will be awed by the strength and robustness in the quality of the components that have gone into the car’s construction.

Once inside the car, the impressive stint only continues. With a few changes, the new X1 has gone miles ahead of its predecessor in terms of interiors. The interior of the BMW X1 reinforces the stylish character and premium feel of the car. The cockpit is angled towards the driver and puts all the important controls within easy reach to provide a sense of personal control and comfort. Positioned above the dashboard is the BMW iDrive (the onboard Driver Information System); and the BMW Navigation Professional (integrated GPS) with the 8.8-inch high-resolution display.

We left the hotel and within no time we were at the track. A range of exercises were arranged for drivers to test the car’s promises and the adversary was a serpentine dirt road built specially for the purpose to simulate the eventualities a utility vehicle will endure in its lifetime. The first test was to check engine power and acceleration. Sporty performance and great efficiency characterise the new BMW TwinPower Turbo diesel engine in the new X1. Just hit on the accelerator pedal and the advanced engine with CommonRail direct injection does not leave a stone unturned, charging forward at the rate of reaching 0-100 kmph in 7.9 seconds with the ability to achieve a top speed of 205 kmph. The powerful engine enables an output of 135 kW/184 hp, producing a maximum torque of 380 Nm.

Even with this kind of acceleration, the X1 had tremendous control as it made its way taming the terrain beneath. At any time, in any gear, the new 8-speed automatic transmission collaborates perfectly with the engine, enabling it to develop its full power and fuel efficiency. Packed with the revolutionary Servotronic technology, the Electronic Power Steering of the new BMW X1 gives maximum control with minimum effort. This feature was especially useful in the next test, wherein drivers were required to drive through the entire track at high speed making their way around tight bends and hairpin curves, all along maintaining the car’s control and balance.

Even as it was whizzing through hostile turns in the track, the X1 was in firm control, with the 17” light alloy wheels playing their part very well. Complimenting all these are an array of safety features such as Airbags, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic vehicle immobiliser and crash sensor among others, ensuring an adventurous and comfortable offroading agenda.

The best part about the X1 is fuel consumption. With the BMW EfficientDynamics in place, optimising the ratio of performance to fuel consumption with features such as Auto Start-Stop, ECO PRO mose, Brake-Energy Regeneration and Intelligent Lightweight Construction, the car manages to give a mileage of 17 km/pl.

The X1 was a match-winner in its unique segment, and the company hopes to carry its good luck going forward. BMW has competitively priced the new X1 in the range of Rs 27.90 lakh to Rs 32.50 lakh (ex-showroom India), across a palette of seven attractive colours.

An hour of offroading and it was back on the road, and the drive was not much different even as the car traversed into the evening.  

(Published 19 March 2013, 16:03 IST)

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