Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Driving the BMW X1

One look at BMW’s hot, new X1 and I was hooked. I’ve always been partial to cars with their lower center of gravity and resultant more engaging driving dynamics. Still, with three fast-growing children and our unfortunately less-than-perfect roads, I sometimes hanker for the packaging versatility and go-anywhere capability of an SUV.

I’m sure a lot of people find themselves in this quandary, as can be seen by the growing number of so-called “crossovers” – vehicles that combine the attributes (and body styles) of a car with that of an SUV or a minivan.

The Mitsubishi Outlander and Subaru Outback are prime examples (the latter’s Forester used to be perfect embodiment of a crossover, but the latest model has evolved more into a bonafide compact SUV).

From any angle, the BMW X1 looks more like a bulked-up 1-series 5-door hatch than its X3 (slightly) bigger brother. It’s about four inches shorter, two inches lower and almost five inches narrower than the X3 (or for a more common comparison, three inches shorter, an inch narrower, and a whopping five inches lower than a Honda CR-V). The X1’s huge, gaping twin kidney grilles hark to the angry snout of the Z4, again tying it to its Bavarian car heritage.

Even with my chocolate brown (officially called Marrakesh Brown) model’s black highlights, BMW stylists painted the lower horizontal edge of the front bumper a striking silver in the best touring car racing tradition.

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