The Truth About Cars » X1 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 02 Sep 2015 22:11:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » X1 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com 2016 Audi Q3 Quattro Review – New-To-You Utility [w/ Video] http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/2016-audi-q3-review-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/2016-audi-q3-review-video/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1155553 2016 Audi Q3 Prestige 2.0-liter, DOHC I-4, CVVT (200 horsepower @ 5,100-6,000 rpm; 207 lbs-ft @ 1,700-5,000 rpm) 6-speed Tiptronic automatic 20 city/28 highway/23 combined (EPA Rating, MPG) 20.2 mpg (Observed, MPG) Tested Options: Prestige Trim, Quattro AWD, Sport Package Base Price: $34,625* As Tested: $42,175* * Prices include $925 destination charge. Audi’s Q3 isn’t a new vehicle by any stretch. […]

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2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-002

2016 Audi Q3 Prestige

2.0-liter, DOHC I-4, CVVT (200 horsepower @ 5,100-6,000 rpm; 207 lbs-ft @ 1,700-5,000 rpm)

6-speed Tiptronic automatic

20 city/28 highway/23 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

20.2 mpg (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: Prestige Trim, Quattro AWD, Sport Package

Base Price:
$34,625*
As Tested:

$42,175*

* Prices include $925 destination charge.

Audi’s Q3 isn’t a new vehicle by any stretch. It was first launched in 2011 but didn’t make it to America until the 2015 model year. That’s because the Q3 plays in a segment that’s new to us — the even-smaller compact luxury crossover. This form factor isn’t new to the rest of the world, but until Land Rover brought the Range Rover Evoque to America and BMW followed up with the X1, there wasn’t a real focus on small luxury soft-roaders.

With crossovers being the latest craze and every luxury brand looking to move down-market to capture fresh young buyers, it was only a matter of time till Mercedes and Audi joined the party with the GLA and the Q3. With a “low” $33,700 starting MSRP, the baby Audi is the more practical counterpart to Audi’s sharp-looking A3 sedan. Although CamCord shoppers have to give up a great deal of room to upgrade to the A3, the Q3 has the potential to be a more sensible option.

Exterior
Outside, the Q3 plays the same farm girl card as the majority of the Audi lineup. The wholesome sheetmetal is attractive, but completely devoid of the dramatic styling cues that grace the new GLA. Closer inspection reveals that the headlamps and grille design are different from the 2015 Q5. That’s because the Q3 was one of the first Audis to wear the brand’s latest front end design. The sharper lines, crisper angles and new headlamp design can also be seen on the next generation Q5. The look is fresh and instantly recognizable, but some may call it is so restrained that it is almost boring. 

At 172.6 inches long, the Q3 is nearly a foot shorter than the X3, Q5, NX or XC60. That means the Q3 is aimed squarely at the BMW X1, Range Rover Evoque and Mercedes GLA. Unlike the GLA and X1, the Q3’s side profile screams miniaturized SUV, not jacked up hatchback.

The rear design is 8/10ths Q5 despite being totally unrelated. Unlike most crossovers, the tail lamps are housed solely on the hatch itself. You’d think that this would allow the opening to be larger, but access is somewhat limited much like its bigger brother Q5. Total cargo room suffers more than you would think since Audi decided to give the rear window a more dramatic rake than on its other crossovers.

2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard

Interior
Like the exterior, the interior design is simple almost to the point of being plain. Although the A3 came to the USA before the Q3, the latter houses an older design and that explains why the interior looks more like the rest of the Audi line up, not the minimalist design we see in the A3. Our model didn’t have the optional wood trim ($350) but I recommend it as it helps break up the black-on-black-on-black interior in our model. Also on the must-have list are the optional sport seats that add extending seat bottom cushions. Audi’s usual attention to detail is easily seen in the interior where fit and finish is notably higher than the mass-market Escape, CR-V or Tiguan.

In an unusual move, Audi makes 12-way power front seats standard and equips them with 4-way power lumbar support. This puts front seat adjustability above the GLA, which skimps on passenger seat comfort to keep the price low. Also surprising, leather seating surfaces are standard while most luxury brands have moved to imitation leather as the base material. The optional sport seats are the most comfortable seats in this segment, according to my back, besting the BMW and Mercedes. Helping my marriage out during the week I had the Q3, the passenger seat is just as comfortable (eliminating the complaints I received when I tested the RDX and GLA). Like Audi’s A3, the Q3 lacks driver’s seat memory, an odd omission when you can find that feature on less expensive Kias, not to mention the Range Rover, BMW and Mercedes. Heck, Mercedes even gives the front passenger standard 3 position seat memory.

Thanks to the Q3’s upright profile, the rear seats are surprisingly accommodating. Although combined front and rear legroom figures are lower than the Q5 and the overall vehicle is smaller than the larger Audi, the Q3 was better able to handle a rearward facing child seat behind a front passenger. The difference is down to the shape of the Q3’s dash which allows the right front seat to move farther forward, freeing up more room in the back. Headroom was equally impressive despite the panoramic moonroof. BMW is claiming a hair more room in the 2016 X1 which will mean the Audi and BMW are the best options if you plan on carrying folks in the rear. On the other hand, the GLA has a more cramped rear bench and my head touched the ceiling unless I leaned inboard. When it comes to cargo hauling, the Q3’s hold is 33-percent smaller than the next size crossover and right about the same as your average midsize sedan.

2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard-004

Infotainment
The Germans have cornered the market in controller-knob based infotainment systems since BMW first introduced iDrive in 2001. Since then, BMW and Audi have been in a gadget arms race. Taken as a whole, MMI isn’t as intuitive as iDrive with more confusing menus and illogical button placement. While I’m sure you would get used to it over time, even after a week I found myself needing to stare at the array of buttons for way too long to find what I needed. If you have another Audi in the family, the Q3’s MMI button placement will take even more getting used to since they dropped it in the dash, not the center console. On the flip side, this means you’re less likely to spill your drink on your MMI controller.

On the flip side, MMI has probably one of the most advanced feature sets on the market thanks to their well-executed Google integration. While iDrive allows you to search for Google results (as do a number of other systems), MMI takes it a step further and overlays your traditional map images with Google satellite imagery and even allows you to zoom in and view Google Street View images so you can “creep” your neighbors. On the down side, the Google map function requires a $15-$30 a month subscription after the first few years for the built-in cellular modem, and the system has troubles downloading maps fast enough when traveling at freeway speeds, leaving you with a blank screen at times.

Although navigation and the Google Map love is optional, the large LCD and iPod integration are standard, things not found in the 2015 Mercedes GLA. Likely due to the Q3’s standard LCD and upcoming 2016 X1, Mercedes has announced the 2016+ GLA will get a 7-inch LCD standard.

2016 Audi Q3 Engine-001

Drivetrain
Nestled sideways under the hood is one of VW/Audi’s ubiquitous 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engines. Despite having the latest in direct injection and variable valve timing tech, the engine is a little short on twist. Output comes in at 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. This is essentially the same as the related Volkswagen Tiguan, but notably lower than the X1 (228 hp/258 lb-ft), Evoque (240 hp/250 lb-ft) or the GLA (208 hp/258 lb-ft). This is also lower than the nearly identical 2.0-liter engine in the Q5, which produces 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque in 2015 and 245 hp, 273 lb-ft in the upcoming next generation Q5.

In order to keep costs down, American bound Q3 models ditch Audi’s 7-speed dual clutch for a more traditional 6-speed Tiptronic automatic. This means that in addition to being down on power, the Q5 is short on gears. Although 6-speeds is the norm in the mass-market segment, the GLA has a 7-speed DCT, the X1 uses an 8-speed and the Evoque a 9-speed. While the engine is partly to blame, the lack of gears has a distinct impact on fuel economy and acceleration. Despite being heavier, producing more power, and being faster to 60, the larger Q5 2.0T nets the same EPA combined score of 23 mpg in both front-wheel and all-wheel drive models. That’s behind the 24 mpg rating for the Evoque, 27 mpg for the 2015 X1 and significantly lower than the 29 mpg delivered by the GLA 250. In a week of mixed driving, our Q3 averaged under 21 mpg.

2016 Audi Q3 Instrument Cluster

Drive
Out on the road, the first thing you need to know is that the rear wheel drive 2015 BMW X1 is not long for this world. While you may find them on dealer lots now, between the time I had the Q3 and me writing this review BMW announced the new FWD-based X1 will be arriving in the fall. This means two things. First, if you want a small luxury crossover with tail-happy RWD dynamics, you need to hurry. Second, TTAC hasn’t driven the new X1 so it’s not possible to comment on it in an intelligent fashion, but we can make some educated assumptions.

BMW is making all US-bound X1 models AWD. The logic is likely driving dynamics (like Jaguar with their ill-fated X-Type sedan) and not supposed off-road ability as found in the Land Rover Evoque. That sets the BMW apart from the Audi and Mercedes which both have front-wheel drive. Standard all-wheel drive solves the traction and torque steer problems found in a front driver, but it does little to address the nearly 60/40 weight balance found in most transverse engined vehicles. While the 2016 X1 may be the best balanced in this shoe box sized category, 56/44 (front/rear) is a far cry from BMW’s almost religious dedication to 50/50 weight balanced vehicles. This means that when chucking your 2016 crossover into a corner, the BMW no longer has a neutral handling advantage, and it’s where the strangely wide tires on the Q3 make a surprising difference.

2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-010

BMW shoes the new X1 with 225-width tires, the narrowest in the segment, while the GLA and Evoque start with 235s. Audi starts with 235s on the base model, but the Premium trim and an $800 option on the base model kick the rubber up two sizes to 255/40R18s — two sizes larger than the GLA 45 AMG and three sizes ahead of the X1. While suspension tuning obviously plays a big role in road holding, the Audi starts with more grip and then adds an excellent suspension to boot. Despite the wide 40-series tires, the Q3’s suspension is tuned more compliant than the GLA 250 and lacks the unsettled behavior on broken pavement I noted in the Evoque. While BMW’s FWD models I’ve tested in Europe aren’t as dynamic as their RWD models, they are excellent for front drivers.

Although there is clearly more body roll in the Audi than in the GLA or GLA AMG, the Audi is quite simply more sure footed. Sure, the GLA is lighter at about 3,500lbs vs the Q3’s nearly 3,700, but the 200 pound difference can’t make up for the wider rubber on the Audi. While the 2015 BMW X1 with the M Sport package was the best handling vehicle in this segment by a hair, 2016 transfers the crown to the Q3. (And the difference in 2015 was smaller than X1 buyers would like to admit.)

2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-012

On the downside, the Q3’s heritage does reveal. You see, the Q3 is not based on VW-Audi’s new MQB platform like the current Golf and A3, instead related to the older A3. That shows itself in steering feel. There isn’t any. While the rest of the competition also employs electric power steering, the Q3’s rack is particularly vague, although it is precise and well weighted. Also a problem is the Q3’s acceleration. The Audi’s 0-60 acceleration time clocked in at 7.6 seconds, slower than a Hybrid Camry and about the same as a Honda CR-V. That’s 8/10ths slower than the Evoque, a full second slower than the GLA 250 and 1.3 seconds behind BMW’s claim for the new 2016 X1. That’s before we consider the 2016 Mercedes GLA 45 AMG with its blistering 4.3 second 0-60 sprint thanks to a whopping 375 horsepower.

Although the Q3 is slower and thirstier than the GLA, value, interior accommodations and handling are where the Audi shines. Even though the $33,700 starting price of the Q3 is higher than the 2015 GLA 250 at $31,300, the Audi comes with standard leather seating, dual-zone climate control, xenon headlamps, a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and keyless go, backup camera, iPod interface, auto dimming mirror, and HD and SiriusXM radio. All of these are extra on the Mercedes. This makes a comparably equipped GLA $3,000 more than the Audi. The Evoque is the most expensive, running $7,000-10,000 more than the Q3, and the 2016 X1 starts at $34,800 and would crest $37,000 when equipped comparably to a base Q3.

2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-011

The surprising thing about the Q3’s pricing structure is how slowly the pricing builds compared to the other luxury options. This makes the Q3 perhaps the easiest upsell from a Hyundai Tucson or a VW Tiguan. Hyundai’s 2016 Tucson Limited ranges from $29,900-34,900 with equipment levels similar to a $33,700-39,000 Q3 making the bump a reasonable $5,000 or so. That’s much narrower than the distance between the Tuscon and GLA 250, which would end up $6,400-10,000 more when comparably equipped. The Range Rover Evoque? The Baby Rover is by far the premium entry and will set you back $15,000-20,000 more than a comparable Hyundai.

I know it sounds odd to compare an Audi and a Hyundai. In most other segments I would say it’s an inappropriate comparison. However, this crop of “inexpensive” luxury vehicles was designed to attract mainstream brand shoppers, so the comparison makes sense. In this light, the Q3 also makes sense. It’s a much easier up-sell over a mainstream crossover while delivering a luxury brand, luxury interior and the best handling in the segment. The X1 and GLA are faster to 60, the Mercedes is arguably a more premium brand and the Evoque offers a level of customization that higher-end luxury shoppers demand, but none of them is as easy of a cross-shop with the top-end mainstream CUVs. For that value proposition and handling performance the Q3 is my favorite entry in this segment, and it’s a new engine and 7-speed DCT away from perfection. Let’s hope someone at Audi is listening.

Audi provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.85 Seconds

0-60: 7.6 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 16 Seconds @ 89.2 MPH

2016 Audi Q3 Cargo Area 2016 Audi Q3 Cargo Area-001 2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard 2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard-001 2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard-002 2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard-003 2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard-004 2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard-005 2016 Audi Q3 Dashboard-006 2016 Audi Q3 Engine 2016 Audi Q3 Engine-001 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-001 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-002 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-003 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-004 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-007 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-008 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-009 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-010 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-011 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-012 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-013 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-014 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-015 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-016 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-017 2016 Audi Q3 Exterior-018 2016 Audi Q3 Front Seats 2016 Audi Q3 Grille 2016 Audi Q3 Grille-001 2016 Audi Q3 Headlamps 2016 Audi Q3 HVAC Controls 2016 Audi Q3 Instrument Cluster 2016 Audi Q3 Instrument Cluster-001 2016 Audi Q3 Seat Controls 2016 Audi Q3 Seats 2016 Audi Q3 Seats-001

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2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4MATIC: Lookin’ for Love http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-mercedes-benz-gla250-4matic-lookin-for-love/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-mercedes-benz-gla250-4matic-lookin-for-love/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 15:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1117377 The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 lives within the margins. The compact — which shares more in common with a hatchback than an SUV — has a life thanks to America’s all-things-crossover obsession. It dodges definition, shirks consistent fuel-economy ratings and even has me guessing on my own feelings toward it. For sure, I can’t find a […]

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GLAProof-1-3

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 lives within the margins.

The compact — which shares more in common with a hatchback than an SUV — has a life thanks to America’s all-things-crossover obsession. It dodges definition, shirks consistent fuel-economy ratings and even has me guessing on my own feelings toward it. For sure, I can’t find a single offensive thing about the GLA. Even more, I can’t find a single thing to love.


The Tester

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250

Engine: 2.0-liter inline, turbocharged 4-cylinder (208 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm; 258 pound-feet @ 1,250-4,000)

Transmission: 7-speed DCT transmission with paddle shifters

Fuel Economy (rating): 24 mpg city/32 mpg highway/27 mpg combined
Fuel Economy (observed): 25.3 mpg according to trip computer in 60/40-split city/highway driving.

Options: Cocoa brown exterior paint; Satin light brown poplar wood trim; Blind-spot assist; Bi-xenon headlamps; 19-inch wheels; Premium package (satellite radio, heated front seats, harman/kardon audio, dual-zone climate control); Multimedia package (navigation, 7-inch high-resolution display, DVD player, traffic information).

Base price: $33,300
Price as tested: $41,950


Exterior
From beak to butt, the GLA looks like adolescent hatchback growing into its tall frame.

That’s not an indictment on the GLA’s overall looks. The GLA’s stretched sheet metal from front to back look downright futuristic compared to the BMW X1 and Lexus NX. Maybe not as classically handsome as the Range Rover Evoque and a coin-flip compared to the Audi Q3, but there is nothing about the GLA that outwardly screams “half-baked.” It’s clear that German engineers set out to build a handsome crossover that happened to be a Mercedes, and not a Mercedes crossover that happened to be handsome. In my opinion, the GLA is too busy to look “classic” Mercedes.

2015MercedesBenzGLA250-2

Even the tail, which has the unenviable task of tying together the multiple body lines and profile curves, looks solidly modern and scrutinized. If I had to nitpick — and I think I have to — the bulbous tail lamps have a whisper of ugly.

2015MercedesBenzGLA250-1

Up front, however, the GLA’s nose and grille present a compelling argument. The car, which starts at just over $34,000, looks more expensive from the front. It’s a case of Mercedes putting a better foot forward for entry buyers. I prefer the GLA’s nose over, say, the boxy approach of the GLK, but the GLA’s face is much less polarizing.

The thick C-pillar visually lengthens the GLA’s abrupt end and gives the car a longer approach than its 179-inch measurement would indicate. From all approaches, the GLA looks bigger outside than it actually is, and that’s not a bad thing.

Shod with our optional 19-inch wheels the GLA sits tall and muscular without being gaudy. If the Subaru Forester had a Y chromosome, it’d look like a Mercedes-Benz GLA.

2015MercedesBenzGLA250-3

Interior
If intention was everything, the GLA’s interior would shine as a paragon for what luxury crossovers should be. Unfortunately, execution factors into the final result so we have to look at these things as they are — not as they could be.

2015MercedesBenzGLA250-4

First, the familiar: the Mercedes-Benz three-spoke wheel in the GLA is an exceptional touch. The wheel feels solid and confident, and its steering wheel controls and paddle shifters are among the best in the business right now.

Additionally, Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND system (its infotainment interface) is clear and fabulously unfussy. Pairing a smartphone or dictating an address is a breeze, and the 7-inch high-resolution display is seamlessly integrated into the GLA (albeit for $2,480 extra) without looking like a 80-inch HDTV in a trailer home.

The GLA even looks the part too. The ballyhooed cross-hair air vents are impressive, and even the beige faux-leather seats would have me second-guessing shelling out $1,700 for the privilege of more hides between the doors.

But it doesn’t take long for impressions to settle into reality.

The three-spoke wheel hides the stalk and makes setting cruise control nearly impossible. The controls for the COMAND system are awkwardly placed somewhere between my elbow and my wrist, and the dash sounds unsettlingly too hollow.

2015MercedesBenzGLA250-5

Even the comfortable-looking MB-Tex seats started to flatten the longer I was in the car and after 2 hours in a hot car driving through the city, I found myself itching to get out.

If I can use a small example: the GLA’s electric-adjustable seat controls are in the doors, like every other new Mercedes-Benz. Unlike some of them, the GLA doesn’t have electrically adjustable headrests, but there’s still a piece of fixed-molded plastic where that slider would go. In short, the GLA has all the look inside that a Mercedes should have, but it’s just not as special.

(Spring for the leather seats and you get a MB-Tex-stitched dash upper, which could kill two birds with one stone.)

The rear seats are comfortable for adults on short to moderate trips. My 6-foot-2-inch frame could fold into the back behind the driver, but not with someone my size driving up front.

Infotainment
As a $2,480 option on a $33,300 car, Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND system is no minor detail. The big, bright 7-inch high-resolution display rises prominently from the middle of the dash and is distinctly an added extra — there’s no hiding that the GLA was built first without it.

However, the COMAND system is thoughtfully integrated and wasn’t much of a distraction for me. I’m incredibly familiar with the layout and controls, so it’s hard for me to comment on the system’s learning curve. However, I can report that after teaching passengers how the small-ish knob placed near the cup holders could slide AND rotate, very few people had trouble learning the system.

The good: The radio controls mimic a tuner, and the system is detailed without needing too much attention.

The bad: Adding a phone, then adding that same phone as a Bluetooth streaming device is a head scratcher.

The ugly: The control knob is far-too small for my big mitts.

In the new C-Class, the COMAND system is nearly impossible to beat. In the GLA, it’s very good.

2015MercedesBenzGLA250-7

Drivetrain

The GLA250 sports a 2.0-liter turbo four that makes an entirely approachable 208 hp. According to the manufacturer, the GLA250 runs up to 60 mph in around 7 seconds, which may not be blinding, but may not be the engine’s fault. The 7-speed DCT transmission does its very best to keep the GLA in low-rev, fuel-saving territory on the tach and it’s apparent. More than a few times, I guessed I was in third gear by the other side of the intersection, and the GLA’s long legs are built for wringing every last mile from its 15-gallon tank.

Unfortunately, it’s a losing attempt.

Despite my best efforts on long highway jaunts, I couldn’t approach 30 mpg consistently, and the GLA may be thirstier than its 27 mpg combined rating would indicate.

In combined driving, over nearly 200 miles, I managed only just over 25 mpg without over-taxing the GLA or touching the paddle shifters.

The GLA is offered in front- or all-wheel drive, which Mercedes calls 4MATIC, configurations. Our tester was the latter, but without much snow or mountain driving to be found over the past week, it’s hard to report whether the all-wheel drive is necessary. We’ll blame El Nino. Or something.

2015MercedesBenzGLA250-8

Drive
Despite being one of the least expensive cars that Mercedes-Benz offers, the GLA is surprisingly confident and nimble on the road. Its grippy, direct steering was surprising for a car that weighs nearly 3,500 pounds and forces all its energy through the front wheels under normal circumstances. I could coax the GLA250 into a push, but not without plenty of drama from the wheels first. (And that’s the way it should be.)

The GLA is easy to park and remarkably maneuverable around an Ikea parking lot (if you’re wondering what I did with it instead of driving into the Rockies.)

There are some niggles, however. The GLA is far from quiet inside. A considerable amount of road noise comes through into the cabin and it feels like Mercedes just skipped some of the sound deadening material in the final checklist.

Also, Mercedes’ collision prevention assist system isn’t any more advanced than anyone else’s, which means that it’s entirely too intrusive. In stop-and-go traffic, the system tripped a few times and warned of a low-speed collision that wasn’t going to happen anyway.

And if I could coax the transmission into shorter shifts at the risk of less impressive fuel economy (on paper), I would. Mash your right foot, count to three and then the GLA clambers forward. There’s too much time between action and reaction for a car that costs more than $40,000.

But there’s nothing wholly unsatisfactory about the GLA. It looks impressive and delivers a product that’s nearly better than anyone else’s. It’s better looking than the NX, more modern than the X1 with more interior potential than the MKC at a price that’s on target for what I’d expect from the three-star folks.

It’s just, coming from the company that recently made an extremely good C-Class car, the only thing I could define about the GLA was my extremely high expectations before I drove it. And maybe that’s just not fair.

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2016 BMW X1 Hitting US Showrooms This Fall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2016-bmw-x1-hitting-us-showrooms-this-fall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2016-bmw-x1-hitting-us-showrooms-this-fall/#comments Wed, 03 Jun 2015 19:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1083697 Coming to showrooms this fall, the 2016 BMW X1 aims to build upon the success of the outgoing first-gen crossover. The sole model available at launch in the U.S. market will be the X1 xDrive28i, with power to come from a 2.0-liter twin-turbo I4 good for 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque for all […]

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2016 BMW X1 01

Coming to showrooms this fall, the 2016 BMW X1 aims to build upon the success of the outgoing first-gen crossover.

The sole model available at launch in the U.S. market will be the X1 xDrive28i, with power to come from a 2.0-liter twin-turbo I4 good for 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque for all corners. An eight-speed Steptronic automatic from Aisin will help move the five-passenger crossover from nil to 60 in 6.3 seconds on its standard 18-inch run-flat all-seasons or optional 19-inch run-flat performance tires, with speed topping out between 130 mph and 143 mph.

Inside, occupants will be greeted more head and legroom, with rear legroom gaining a 1.5-inch increase in its standard setup, 2.6-inches with optional adjustable rear seating. The rear seats can also be split 40/20/40 for increased cargo room, with storage pockets and compartments throughout the crossover augmenting capacity.

Up front, the driver and front passenger has access to the X1’s ConnectedDrive connected-vehicle system via standard 6.5-inch and optional 8.8-inch touchscreens, while the driver can know what’s going on during the journey via the HUD system.

Occupant safety is handled by BMW’s Driver Assistance Plus package, which includes: lane-departure warning; automatic high beams; front collision warning with pedestrian and city features; active cruise control; assisted parking; and rear-view camera.

Two packages will be available with the X1: The Premium Package adds an optional panoramic moonroof and full LED headlamps, while the M Sport Package — set to arrive later in 2015 — brings quicker shifting, sports seats and sport suspension to the crossover. Standard features include: front fog-lamps; alarm system; heated and electronically adjustable mirrors; headlamp rain sensor; and BMW’s Dynamic Cruise Control.

Price of admission and EPA ratings will be announced closer to launch, with its public debut set for the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show in September.

2016 BMW X1 01 2016 BMW X1 02 2016 BMW X1 05 2016 BMW X1 03 2016 BMW X1 04 2016 BMW X1 07 2016 BMW X1 09 2016 BMW X1 10 2016 BMW X1 06 2016 BMW X1 08 2016 BMW X1 11

[Photo credit: BMW]

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Buick Regal Tops Among Those Traded-In After One Year Of Ownership http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/buick-regal-tops-among-traded-one-year-ownership/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/buick-regal-tops-among-traded-one-year-ownership/#comments Wed, 06 May 2015 19:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1062954 In a hurry to trade your new Buick Regal for something else? You’re not alone, as the sedan joins a handful of models traded-in after a year of ownership. Per a report by iSeeCars.com, 2.7 percent of vehicles bought new end up on the used lot after being on the road for one year, Forbes […]

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2014 Buick Regal GS AWD Exterior-003

In a hurry to trade your new Buick Regal for something else? You’re not alone, as the sedan joins a handful of models traded-in after a year of ownership.

Per a report by iSeeCars.com, 2.7 percent of vehicles bought new end up on the used lot after being on the road for one year, Forbes reports, with trade-in rates as high as 11 percent for a specific model.

The models brought back to the sales lot run the gamut, from $18,000 subcompacts to $45,000 luxury sedans. The Regal tops the list with 10.7 percent of owners exchanging their keys after a year, the Chevrolet Sonic takes second with 8.9 percent, and the BMW X1 at a close third with 7.8 percent. The Dodge Charger, Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan, Chevrolet Cruze and Nissan Frontier also make the list.

As for why the sudden change of heart, quality or the perception of quality played a key role; the aforementioned models were rated poorly by owners surveyed in J.D. Power’s 2014 U.S. Initial Quality Survey. ISeeCars.com CEO Phong Ly says those issues usually involve technology, such as connected-vehicle systems, voice command, and Bluetooth connection, and aren’t so much “problems” as they are difficulties with said technologies.

Those looking for a deal on those models will likely be happy with what they find on the used lot, though. The 2014 Regal with average mileage comes with a price tag 32.2 percent less than new, while the C-Class and Charger lost 31.0 percent and 28.4 percent in new-car value after a year, respectively.

[Photo credit: Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars]

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FWD BMW 2 Series Models Too Small For USDM To Be Sold http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/fwd-bmw-2-series-models-small-usdm-sold/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/fwd-bmw-2-series-models-small-usdm-sold/#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2015 13:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1020169 Hoping to drive home in a front-driven BMW 2 Series? You’ll have to settle for the RWD coupe, as the automaker has no plans to sell the former in the U.S. Automotive News reports the 2 Series Gran Tourer and Active Tourer — both based upon the UKL1 platform also underpinning the third-gen MINI Cooper […]

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BMW-2-Series-Active-Tourer

Hoping to drive home in a front-driven BMW 2 Series? You’ll have to settle for the RWD coupe, as the automaker has no plans to sell the former in the U.S.

Automotive News reports the 2 Series Gran Tourer and Active Tourer — both based upon the UKL1 platform also underpinning the third-gen MINI Cooper — won’t be leaving Germany for the U.S. market due to their small size.

Per a representative, the Gran Tourer’s 179-inch length and the Active Tourer’s 171 inches are too small for a three-row minivan meant for the market. Thus, the smallest USDM BMW will be the 175.5-inch X1 crossover, which will become FWD via the UKL1 platform when the next-gen model goes on sale later this year.

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Long Term Review – 2013 BMW X1 (aka My wife’s car is smarter than me) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/long-term-review-2013-bmw-x1-aka-my-wifes-car-is-smarter-than-me/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/long-term-review-2013-bmw-x1-aka-my-wifes-car-is-smarter-than-me/#comments Fri, 09 Aug 2013 12:33:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=498310 This past June, my wife took possession of her 2013 BMW X1. Last month I drove it for the first time. Its official, I am a now a luddite. This troubles me, because I have always been comfortable with technology, but the gadgets on this car are maddening. My annoyance is not with the power […]

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Front

This past June, my wife took possession of her 2013 BMW X1. Last month I drove it for the first time.

Its official, I am a now a luddite.

This troubles me, because I have always been comfortable with technology, but the gadgets on this car are maddening.

Interior

My annoyance is not with the power plant. The 2.0 liter turbocharged 4 delivers its 240 horses much smoother than I would have expected. BMW claims it can get from 0-60 in 5.5 seconds, and had I not driven this one, I would never believe it. But, yeah, it is quick. Nor I am upset with the 8 speed automatic transmission. The shifts are smooth, decisive and faster than prom night intercourse.

I like the interior, standard BMW fare. If you’re a fan, nothing has changed. Ms. Mental ordered the Xline package and got actual leather. As she despises wood on car interiors (Sandy got a pass based on character), the dealer offered her the only non-wood option on the lot, “high-gloss dark copper.” It’s neat, it looks like sparkly root beer. Our past Bimmers had brushed aluminum bits. I enjoy BMWs interiors and have since my stepbrother loaned me his (then) new 1989 325IS.

Years later he would loan me his new Bangle-era 645, with the much maligned iDrive. I mastered it a few minutes and spent the week rather enjoying the experience.

But this one has me feeling like a troglodyte.

First is the iPhone interface; to do more than recharge requires a BMW iPod interface adapter. I discovered this after being forced to consult the owner’s manual. Yes, this is the baseline stereo, but that is no excuse. The Toyota Fortuner I tool about Abu Dhabi plugs right in and is controlled via the steering wheel. My father-in-law’s 2013 Chevy Cruz works the same, and my brother-in-law’s Hybrid Escape will play songs via voice command.

Which segues to the blue tooth. Aside from being so complicated it took my wife and me 20 minutes with the owners manual to get out phones to work, it won’t recognize contacts, or any other verbal functions. For my DD last year I bought a Bluetooth capable speaker that clips to my sun visor from Best Buy. For $25, this will relay any command directly to my phone, hands free. A vehicle that starts at $30K cannot mimic this? I can access Siri but pressing the phone button, but the point of the steering wheel mounted control is to allow me true hands free operation.

Then there is the shifter. I have been away from the new car game quite a while and missed the boat on BMW transmission gear selectors. How is this not the first thing reviews complain about? I have yet to drive this car with out it “dinging” at me, and I operate the most powerful airborne radar ever manufactured.

Finally there is the auto stop/start. BMW claims it produces a MPG improvement of 3%. My wife’s pre-start checklist involves turning it off. Normal usage is OK, if not a bit disconcerting the first time it happens. But in summertime, the car will only do this if the difference between the outside air temp and interior isn’t to far off. But last month in Omaha, the temps varied between 75-85, and the car cannot wouldn’t up its mind. When auto-starting for the AC, rather than brake release, the whole car jolts annoyingly.

This should not be construed into a dislike of the car. Truly, it is really good. It’s great on the freeway, comfortable and quiet. The mileage is great and 5 folks can actually ride in it for up to 30 minutes. My spite for the shifter should not be translated into spite for the transmission. It’s is excellent in normal mode, capable in “manual.” But the sport mode felt like it was programed for me personally. It behaves exactly how I want it to behave in manual mode, but shifts faster, downshifts exactly when you want and never picks the wrong gear. For the first time in my life, I am probably happier with an auto than a manual.

Rear

Despite having to special order the very rare gunmetal gray (a joke I stole from Justin Crenshaw) the upgraded wheels really make it look great. For the duration of the lease, we will evaluate how it ages, how dog proof it is, and its ability to withstand my abuse.

Wheel

I am certain any unexpected ownership expenses will be immediately texted to me until I return home. But part of our reason for getting this was my past experience with BMWs. I have owned an E30, E36, E46 and still ride my 99 R1100S. I’m not expecting any hiccups.

My current issues are with the technology, and that’s not the fault of the car. I’m annoyed that my wife, with one well researched purchase, has managed to turn me from a techo-capable gearhead into my Dad.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there are some kids on the lawn, and I have to go shake my fist at them.

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Review: 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/review-2013-bmw-x1-xdrive28i-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/review-2013-bmw-x1-xdrive28i-video/#comments Tue, 11 Jun 2013 13:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=490737 I know a guy who used to own a BMW 318ti. Like most 318 shoppers, he paid way too much because it had a roundel on the front. At some point he realized that 25-grand (in 1997) was an awful lot to have paid for an asthmatic 138-horsepower rattletrap and sold it. Likewise, the fog […]

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2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

I know a guy who used to own a BMW 318ti. Like most 318 shoppers, he paid way too much because it had a roundel on the front. At some point he realized that 25-grand (in 1997) was an awful lot to have paid for an asthmatic 138-horsepower rattletrap and sold it. Likewise, the fog lifted at BMW and they refocused on volume models. Then came the 1 series, a fantastic little car that hasn’t exactly set the sales charts on fire. The Germans are a persistent people, so for 2013 they are fishing with fresh bait. Click through the jump as we look at the cheapest BMW in America, the 2013 BMW X1.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

OK, so BMW would prefer that I called the X1 “the most affordable” BMW in America, but I suffer from political incorrectness. So what is the X1? It’s a crossover of course. While that term has become synonymous with “ginormous FWD soft-roader” the X1 is more of a “true” crossover in that it looks like a cross between a pregnant 1-Series and a mini X5. The result is a handsome BMW version of the Subaru Outback or Volvo XC70. (The X1 is a cousin of the 1-Series (E87) and 3-Series (E90).) Since wagon’s don’t sell well either, BMW stretched the X1 vertically and called it good.

Unlike the X3 and X5, the one thing BMW didn’t do was shorten the hood. As a result, you might almost call the X1 BMW’s latest hatchback. Only that wouldn’t sell as many X1s either. Get it now? Speaking of the X3, the X1 is 6.5 inches shorter and 3.5 inches narrower than its larger cousin.

I should point out a few things before we move on. First up, BMW’s rear hatchback design makes the X1 look less like a Volvo wagon, but also reduces practical load space. My only other quibble outside is that the wheels look a bit small for the X1. What’s your opinion? Sound out below.

 

2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Interior

European car companies are accused of making the same sausage available in different lengths. That’s obvious outside as well as inside the X1 where you’ll find the same shapes and many of the same controls/screens found in other BMW products. This parts bin approach pays dividends for the X1 where you get the same shifter and iDrive controller found in six-figure BMWs. (How those six-figure shoppers feel about this is anyone’s guess.) Once you’re done playing with the high-rent knobs, your hands will discover where BMW saved money: plastics. Instead of the soft molded instrument panels used in other BMWs, the X1 gets a hard plastic unit. The black upper portion of the dash has then been coated with a thin layer of soft material to improve feel, while the rest of the dash remains hard. This is an interesting choice when even Buick and Chevrolet have ditched their hard plastic interiors for squishy bits.

Germans car engineers don’t understand America. Sure, they understand driving dynamics and styling, but the Burger King drive-thru is incomprehensible. It’s obvious they are making effort to understand ‘mericans, bless their little hearts, but I think a US field-trip is in order for the guy who designs center consoles in Bavaria. Go to the south, my friend, go to the south. When the X1 arrived, I was starving. Being a lover of convenience, I headed to Taco Bell. It was at that point I noticed I had only one cup holder. Behind my right elbow. After consulting the instruction manual, I found the other one. If you look at the picture below, you’ll see it: a funky little thing that inserts into a slot in the center console to the right of the shifter. When it’s not inserted, you have an odd hole with a springy-cover concealing its depths. When in place, you have a cup holder positioned to splash its contents on your snazzy iDrive knob. You will also have a passenger complain their knee hits it all the time. Want to jam a enormous southern-style Styrofoam drink in your X1? Good luck. BMW: you got the X5 and X6’s cupholders so right, what happened?

2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i, Cupholder, Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Cupholder woes aside, there is little to complain about inside the X1. Front comfort is excellent, even in the base model with an 8-way manually adjustable seat. Our X1 was equipped with the $3,000 M-Sport package which brings aluminum trim, a black headliner, steering wheel mounted shift-paddles and BMW’s excellent sport seats. The optional thrones contort in more ways than I can describe and are one of the most comfortable seat designs in any $30,000-40,000 vehicle. If you can’t find a comfortable position, go see a back surgeon. Something that isn’t standard however is leather. If you want real cow, be prepared to pony up an extra $1,450. If that surprises you, it shouldn’t. Even Lexus is ditching real moo in their latest designs.

Most cars get less comfortable as you move rearwards, and that is certainly true of the X1. Back seats are firmly padded with little bolstering and very straight backs. Thankfully, the seat bottom cushion is not as close to the floor as many small crossovers, although the lack of padding made passenger’s legs just as tired on a one-hour car trip. On the flip side the rear seats recline to soften the blow. Rear legroom and headroom are excellent thanks to the X1’s upright profile and BMW and getting in and out of the X1 is made easy by large door openings. The ever-efficient Germans made the rear seats fold in a 40/20/40 manner allowing you to insert IKEA flat packs and four passengers at the same time. Behind the seats you’ll get 25 cubic feet of cargo room if you load the X1 to the ceiling, and 56 cubes if you fold the rear seats flat. That puts the X1 behind other small crossovers like a RAV4 or CRV but decidedly ahead of a 128i coupé.

2013 BMW X1 xDive28i iDrive, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Infotainment

The X1 gets the latest generation of BMW’s iDrive. The system builds upon the previous versions in small, but important ways. Keeping up with the times, BMW has swapped the CD button for a “Media” button which makes accessing your USB and iDevices easier than in the past. Unlike the 328i we recently tested, the X1 gets a single USB port. Likely because of cost cutting, BMW located the solitary USB port and Aux input at the bottom of the center stack instead of hiding it neatly away in the armrest of glovebox. If you want to know more about iDrive, click on that video at the top of the review.

Unfortunately not all the iDrive fun is standard. BMW is bundling the smartphone apps, navigation and voice command system for your music devices into a single $2,250 premium package, or a $6,150 “ultimate” package which also bundles power front seats, keyless entry, parking sensors, ambient lighting, satellite radio, auto dimming mirrors and a panoramic moonroof. Of course, adding this package increases the cost of your X1 by 20%, but “least expensive BMW” is a very relative term. Still, iDrive’s tasteful high-res graphics, fast interface and superior phone integration make this the system one of the finest on the market, and I would buy the $2,250 package before I added things like leather or HID headlamps ($900) to my ride. Since this is the bargain Bimmer, you won’t find radar cruise control, collision warning, adaptive suspension systems, heads-up displays or fancy lane-keeping assistants. For the purists in the crowd this is welcome news, but it’s still easy to option your X1 from a base price of $30,800 to around $50,000. Be mindful of that options list.
2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Engine, 2.0L Twin-Power Turbo, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Drivetrain

Part of what went wrong with the 318 was the drivetrain. Instead targeting a high fun/dollar ratio, BMW went for “low bottom line” and used an asthmatic 138HP four-banger. Learning from that lesson, BMW fit their new 2.0L N20 turbo engine and 8-speed automatic in the sDrive28i and xDrive28i. Producing 240HP from 5,000 to 6,000RPM and 260 lb-ft of twist from 1,250 to 4,800RPM that’s more oomph than the 3.0L inline engine under the hood of the 128i.

More important than the power number is the weight. A base RWD X2 is 3,527lbs, only 240lbs heavier than the considerably less powerful 128i coupé. Even our heavier AWD X1 sports a HP to weight ratio better than the smaller and more expensive two-door 1. As a result, performance is more than adequate with a 6.5 second run to 60 (2/10ths faster than a 128i) but decidedly “un-BMW” in terms of power delivery. The torque “plateau” starts early but drops precipitously after 5,750 RPM is a stark contrast from BMW’s 3.0L that comes alive at high RPMs (and screams like a banshee). Proving that BMW loves America, we get an optional powertrain not available anywhere else. For $38,600, BMW will jam a 300HP 3.0L (N55) twin-scroll turbo six under the hood. Sadly the quick shifting 8-speed transmission is lost in the process (you get the old 6-speed) and BMW still won’t offer a manual X1 in the USA.

2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Drive

The N20 isn’t just 33% shorter than the N55, the whole drivetrain is 165lbs lighter. In addition, the 2.0L sits behind the front axle instead of above it. The effect of the weight reduction and nose-lightening is obvious on the track where the X1 is incredibly nimble. That nimble feeling is especially pronounced in the RWD X1 sDrive28i thanks to a somewhat unusual weight balance with less than 50% of the weight on the front wheels. In contrast, the AWD xDrive28i BMW lent us for a week has a near-perfect 50.6/49.4% (F/R) weight balance while the more powerful 3.0L turbo model is nose heavy at 52.1/47.9 %.

Since our X1 was an M-Sport model, our 18-inch wheels were shod with grippy 255-width rubber. To put that in perspective, 255s are rare enough in full/mid-sized crossovers and unheard of in the compact crossover segment. With the front wheels turned slightly, the X1 looks like a kid wearing his dad’s shoes but the extra rubber pays dividends when you encounter a corner. The unexpectedly high grip combined with a neutral chassis dynamics makes the X1 predictable and confident on the road. In many ways the manners of the X1 reminded me of the (much larger) X6M. Just a little. In an unusual move, BMW fits AWD X1s with hydraulic power steering while the base RWD sDrive28i uses BMW’s lifeless electric assist. The difference isn’t night and day, but the hydraulic unit does have more steering feel. Be warned however that neither power steering system provides as much assist as the competition, so your arms may get tired after a long trip on a winding road.

2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Exterior, Wheel, M-Sport, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Speaking of the RWD model, BMW claims it will get 23/34/28 MPG (City/Highway/Combined) and adding AWD to the 2.0L turbo drops those numbers to a still respectable 22/33/26 MPG. Over 544 miles, I averaged 22.9MPG, largely due the way the X1 devours mountain roads. That oddly brings me to the Mini Countryman, which is really the only competition for the X1 (since the VW Tiguan doesn’t play in the upper-crust playground). This is a perfect example of the right hand stabbing the left hand. The Mini Countryman is a nice enough vehicle, but driven back to back the X1 is a hoot-and-a-half while the Mini’s FWD manners, less powerful engine, similar MPGs and skinny tires register half a hoot. Now I know why the Mini doesn’t come up as a competitive vehicle on BMW’s website.

The 318 proved, there’s more to life than a low sticker price. The X1 proves that given time BMW can make a compelling entry-level vehicle. The X1 is more than just the least expensive BMW on the lot, it may well have the highest fun/dollar ratio of any modern BMW, especially in the $33,800 X1 sDrive28i M-Sport trim (damn that’s a long name). It’s also one of the few vehicles I would actually buy if my money was on the line.

 

Hit it or Quit It?

Hit it

  • Most fun I’ve had for $30-large. OK. 45-large.
  • Get a BMW with hydraulic power steering while it lasts.

Quit it

  • Too many hard-plastics on the inside for a car that costs this much.
  • The Germans still don’t know what cupholders are for. Maybe its time for a field trip?

 

BMW Provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.42

0-60: 6.55

1/4 Mile: 15.08 Seconds @ 92.6 MPH

Average Observed Fuel Economy: 22.9 MPG over 544 Miles

 

2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Cargo Area 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Engine 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Engine, 2.0L Twin-Power Turbo, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Exterior 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Exterior-001 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Exterior-004 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Exterior, Wheel, M-Sport, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Exterior-007 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Exterior-006 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Exterior-008 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i iDrive-003 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i iDrive-002 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i iDrive-001 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i iDrive 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Exterior-010 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Exterior-009 2013 BMW X1 xDive28i iDrive, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Interior 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Interior-001 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i, Cupholder, Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Interior-003 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Interior-004 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Interior-010 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Interior-009 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Interior-008 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Interior-006 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Interior-005 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Interior-011 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Interior-012 2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i Interior-013

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Brilliance’s Blatant BMW Copy Creates Chinese Crisis http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/brilliance%e2%80%99s-blatant-bmw-copy-creates-chinese-crisis/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/brilliance%e2%80%99s-blatant-bmw-copy-creates-chinese-crisis/#comments Fri, 01 Apr 2011 14:31:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=389461 Like most manufacturers, BMW is getting ready for the pilgrimage to Shanghai, where the Shanghai Motor Show will open its doors to the press on April 19, and to the public on April 21. Some at BMW go with mixed feelings. There will be some delicate discussions between BMW brass and their Chinese joint venture […]

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Like most manufacturers, BMW is getting ready for the pilgrimage to Shanghai, where the Shanghai Motor Show will open its doors to the press on April 19, and to the public on April 21. Some at BMW go with mixed feelings. There will be some delicate discussions between BMW brass and their Chinese joint venture partner Brilliance. The reason: At Asia’s and possibly the world’s most important auto show, Brilliance will show their A3 SUV. Germany’s Auto Bild calls it “a brazen BMW X1 rip-off, with inspirations from Audi.”

The matter becomes even more touchy as BMW plans to produce the X1 in China with a launch date in 2012. It will be built by BMW’s Chinese joint venture with Brilliance.

Asked what BMW will do about the matter, BMW spokesman Frank Strebe confirms that his company is “familiar with the matter.” His employer already is in talks with Brilliance and is “exploring the next steps.” The heads of BMW and Brilliance are expected to have a serious sit-down in Shanghai. From the sounds of it, BMW is not taking this lightly. The copy is a bit too brazen. Strebe, usually BMW’s point man for the Siebener, has been made the go to person for the Chinese copypaste.

“In the side view, the tracing was especially successful,” writes Auto Bild. “Roof lines, windows and wheel housings look like fresh off the BMW assembly lines.” The dashboard appears to be inspired by Audi. “And we won’t even mention the name,” says the German paper with reference to the Audi A3. This is also being built in China, by Audi’s joint venture with FAW.

BMW had sued Chinese maker Shuanghuan for copying their X5. A court in BMW’s hometown Munich blocked the importation of the copy. In Italy, a court in Milan decided that there was no likelihood of confusion. Hauling a  Shuanghuan in front of a judge is one thing. With your own joint venture partner, the matter is a bit different. China already is BMW’s third largest market, after Germany and the U.S.

The talks in Shanghai won’t be easy.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Alfa’s SUV Plans Parody Themselves Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-alfas-suv-plans-parody-themselves-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-alfas-suv-plans-parody-themselves-edition/#comments Wed, 30 Jun 2010 16:22:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=359869 Alfa’s been talking about selling an SUV for years now, as the brand has thrashed around looking for a rescue line. Now, a long-rumored ute named Kamal (after an Alfa SUV concept) has finally materialized at Alfa’s 100-year anniversary, looking an awful lot like a BMW X1. In fact, it is a BMW X1 with […]

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Alfa’s been talking about selling an SUV for years now, as the brand has thrashed around looking for a rescue line. Now, a long-rumored ute named Kamal (after an Alfa SUV concept) has finally materialized at Alfa’s 100-year anniversary, looking an awful lot like a BMW X1. In fact, it is a BMW X1 with tacked-on Alfa cues. If this is a sign that Alfa fans are desperate for an SUV, their dreams will come true. Automotive News [sub] reports that SUVs are a crucial component of Alfa’s plan to sell half a million cars per year by 2014, up from just over 100k last year. A small SUV, to be built by Chrysler and imported to Europe, will start sales in 2012, with another, larger ute (based on the next Jeep Libery) planned for 2014. In other words, look for rebadged Chryslers to rescue Alfa’s SUV dreams rather than a taped-off BMW. No wonder analysts are so skeptical of Alfa’s turnaround plans, telling AN [sub]

The potential of the (Alfa) brand is huge, but to multiply sales fivefold in five years they probably also will need to sell cars on the Moon and on Mars

A bit of a stretch, nicht wahr? alfabmw1 alfabmw2 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Review: BMW X1 xDrive20d http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/review-bmw-x1-xdrive20d/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/review-bmw-x1-xdrive20d/#comments Mon, 05 Apr 2010 14:06:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=351586 Diesel clatter in a BMW is like watching Bullit to the tunes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. In other words, distasteful and illegal in 48 states. And yet, driving BMW’s new X1 is a surprisingly John Deere-like experience. Is this a BMW or the ultimate agricultural machine? Maybe this sort of confusion is the X1’s worst […]

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Diesel clatter in a BMW is like watching Bullit to the tunes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. In other words, distasteful and illegal in 48 states. And yet, driving BMW’s new X1 is a surprisingly John Deere-like experience. Is this a BMW or the ultimate agricultural machine? Maybe this sort of confusion is the X1’s worst problem.

In this day and age, BMW’s identity crisis justifies a psychological hotline. Ever since Mercedes beat BMW in defining the midsize-luxury-SUV segment with its successful ML, the Bavarian automaker is having a separation anxiety of sorts, racing to create new and increasingly eyebrow-raising niches. The X3 may have invented the premium-compact SUV, but the X6 and the recent 5 GT have been trying to answer questions no one really asked.

You’d expect the X1’s nomenclature to indicate its roots lie in the compact 1 series, but the X1 is actually a chopped 3 series Touring (same wheelbase, different overall length), which makes the X3 the ugly duckling of the BMW family. Expensive and outdated, the X3 is less than 5 inches longer than the new X1, meaning the next generation of the sandwich child of the X series will have to get a serious bump in size and kit to justify the price increase over its baby brother. When it does – likely in 2011 – the X1 will also arrive stateside.

The exterior of the X1 is almost as confused as its identity. Up front, the X-junior bears BMW’s new upright kidney grill. Coupled with the bulbous bumper from the 1 series, the result isn’t completely unattractive – but definitely polarizing. The back is influenced by the 5 GT, with an uncanny resemblance to the E32 7 series, but the way the X1’s design elements connect is what makes it a bit of an odd bird. The proportions are strange, and they aren’t helped by the profile line sweeping from the front to the back – which is handsome on the new 5 series, but feels busy on the compact hatchback that the X1 fundamentally is.

Thankfully, the X1 still provides at least some core BMW experience. The seats are comfortable and grippy, and the thick, neatly stitched steering wheel falls comfortably into the driver’s hands. The driving position is also much closer to a conventional car than a true crossover – so that fans of the genre may be a little disappointed.

The rest of the cabin gets the basics right: everything in eye-level is fairly pleasing to the eye and touch, but as you go down you will discover flimsy plastics not worthy of a car of this caliber. There’s nothing here to make you feel particularly luxurious, and the general design of the cabin is a little dull – even BMW’s signature gearlever is replaced by a run of the mill stick. Annoyingly, there isn’t even a proper armrest.

The newest member of the X series does, however, get the practicalities right. Four passengers will be comfortable and so will their luggage – a huge improvement over the cramped 1 series. At almost 15 cubic feet, the X1’s trunk is smaller than the standard 3 series’. It is, however, significantly more comfortable to load, thanks to the practical benefits of the rear hatch and the slightly raised ride height.

Call me mad, but I’ve actually taken the baby-X to some mild offroading, and imminently proven that the X1 – and its expensive looking bumpers in particular – is allergic to as much as moderate potholes. And unless you don’t live in a country as sunny as mine, you really don’t need xDrive – BMW speak for 4 wheel drive – the car’s minimal clearance will probably limit it much quicker than treacherous mud will.

The X1’s natural habitat is the road, where it offers a good (but mixed) experience. The ride is bad. Blame BMW’s beloved low profile runflat tires for that. In moderately slow driving the X1 feels bumpy and crashes on minor asphalt imperfections, while in higher speeds and flatter roads the experience improves significantly – wind and tire noises are kept at bay, too.

Other than that, the X1 drives like a BMW should, with weighty hydraulically-assisted steering that’s not to anyone’s liking – especially not in town and during parking maneuvers. Thankfully, it’s also accurate and communicative, greatly contributing to a driving experience that’s very close to its road focused sibling. Body roll is minimal and the brakes are excellent, both in pedal feel and bite retention. The well-praised six speed ZF gearbox is well-praised here too, with a smooth and decisive action, but tap-shifters are sorely missed for spirited driving.

The engine is a mixed bag too. With 177 brake horsepower on tap, it won’t set this BMW’s tires alight (or puncture them, for that matter), but 258 lb-ft of torque have their way of getting this crossover to 60 in about 8.5 seconds on paper. Off paper, it feels quicker once the turbocharger kicks in at about 1,500 RPM. But then there’s that John Deere identity issue. The diesel clatter, which is well silenced in the rest of BMW’s diesel-sipping offerings, is present not only while the engine is cold, but also during moderate accelerations, almost never letting you forget it’s down there, and it won’t take regular unleaded without a fight.

Casting a verdict on the BMW X1 isn’t a “good car, bad car” affair as with most cars, because you have to put it in context, and right now you can’t. BMW want us to believe that their newest crossover is the opening shot in a new and busy segment which will be populated by the upcoming Audi Q3 and Land Rover LRX, but as of the present, the X1 can’t be readily compared to any vehicle on the market.

Even more confusingly, the X1 isn’t a bad car – it handles well and has some practical edges. The downsides – a mediocre cabin, iffy ride comfort with the stock runflat tires, and noisy engine – place it closer to the 1 series in the BMW quality hierarchy. In the end, it all boils down to pricing. UK pricing of the X1 place it close in price to an equally equipped 3 series sedan, but significantly cheaper than the more spacious 3 series touring.

In this price range the X1 can make sense for people looking for added practicality and raised ride height, who are willing to sacrifice some refinement and cabin quality. But it also comes mighty close in price to the larger Audi Q5, which makes me wonder: is there really a place for another sub-niche in the niche of the century?

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: That’s Riich Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-thats-riich-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-thats-riich-edition/#comments Fri, 20 Nov 2009 19:32:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=336273 We got a good giggle (and several excellent limericks) out of Chery’s Bentley-aping Riich brand logo back in March, so we thought we’d show off a peek at what qualifies as upmarket for Chery. Priced at about $8,165, the Riich X1 makes do with an 84 hp, 1.3 liter engine which motivates the tiny crossover […]

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Hell of wealthy, yo. (courtesy: automotorundsport.de)

We got a good giggle (and several excellent limericks) out of Chery’s Bentley-aping Riich brand logo back in March, so we thought we’d show off a peek at what qualifies as upmarket for Chery. Priced at about $8,165, the Riich X1 makes do with an 84 hp, 1.3 liter engine which motivates the tiny crossover to 60 mph in a very un-upmarket 16 seconds. Which is no big deal, considering top speed is rated at about 93 mph. The X1 does offer alloy wheels, climate control, parking sensors and mp3 connectivity though. As tempting as it is to simply laugh off at the Chinese version of upmarket branding, a look at this advertisement for the X1’s sibling, the Riich M1, shows a young professional-oriented vibrancy that’s become rare in US-market auto advertising. What the Chinese market clearly lacks in technology and expectation, it makes up for with an enthusiasm born of seemingly limitless potential. [via Automotorundsport.de]

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