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'A premium vehicle' – The BMW X1 xDrive23i

Think of the 1 series and you picture a relatively small car, but not so with this third-generation model of the X1, with its distinctive styling and increased space.

The BMW X1 xDrive23i

A bit of a transformation from its predecessor, with more standard kit, this SUV — BMW describes it as a Compact Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) – certainly looks the part with eye-catching curves, smart light clusters, signature kidney-shaped grille sitting above a large air scoop.

The rear end features a spoiler, while integrated roof bars and smart alloys round off a pleasing profile.

The interior is a real upgrade on what went before with high-end soft-touch trim and chrome finish dominating.

With the leather seats and multi-function steering wheel featuring snazzy stitching, there is no mistaking this is a premium vehicle.

The raised seating position emphasises the SUV-like quality and it features two information screens which seem to almost blend into each other and a floating armrest which houses the gear selector together with the smartphone charging tray.

The screens are a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel and a central curved 10.7-inch infotainment screen which controls navigation, infotainment and smartphone connectivity.

BMW says the latest iDrive is designed to provide intuitive touch and voice control. This reduces the number of physical buttons, controls and switches required.

The system offers optional functions like the Augmented View function as an optional add-on for the cloud-based BMW Maps navigation system.

An interior camera makes it possible to take snapshots of the occupants or have images of the interior sent to a smartphone.

Engine options available are the usual BMW multitude of choices including two petrol, two diesel, two plug-in hybrid, and one all-electric model, with a choice of Sport, xLine, and M Sport models available. Prices start at just over £34k.

All models are well equipped and the xLine driven here features auto dimming rear view and wing mirrors, interior camera, parking assistant and head up display, but as with all BMWs the options list appears endless.

Powered by a two-litre turbo petrol engine supplemented by a 48V mild hybrid electric motor, this model offers plenty of pace and is fuel efficient.

The system is linked to seven-speed Steptronic transmission with double clutch as standard. Economy is decent with the claimed 39-43mpg seeming pretty close to the mark.

The 215 PS unit powers the car to 60 mph in just 7.1 seconds while the intelligent all-wheel drive, or XDrive, gives maximum traction when required.

Various drive modes are offered from economy to sport with the upgraded chassis technology delivering agile handling, if not the comfiest of rides, particularly on difficult surfaces.

As an SUV, sorry SAV, it is a practical vehicle. Stowage space is good with a split height boot floor while the folding seats allow a capacity of 540 litres to be increased to 1,545 litres. Various cup holders and a central bin adds to practicality.

It is also packed with safety equipment, a comprehensive array of airbags, cruise control with brake function and the front-collision warning system, parking assistant including reversing assist camera and reversing assistant.

It now has a real X factor.

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