Reward yourself with an easy ride

The BMWs of Germany have long been aspirational machines and these days there’s a welter of BMWs to reward hard and clever workers of all ages.

The biggest single-selling model in Australia is the good-looking and well-credentialed BMW X5 wagon with 3 litre diesel engine.

That’s a tourer for all seasons, albeit at the sharper end of the price list.

Now, to encourage a fresh lot of customers from baby boomers to young families, BMW have two new cheaper SUVs on offer, the sX1 wagons starting at $49,900.

While the Germans were a little slower than others - such as the Americans and Brits  - in tackling the Sports Utility Vehicle market, it’s all action stations these days as SUV sales continue to climb across the western world.

BMW prefers to catalogue their line up as SAVs - Sports Activity Vehicles.  And in some ways this is a more righteous classification, for these machines are not the dual range, high-riding four-wheel drives such as the Jeep Wagonner and Range Rover which gave rise to the SUV class.

Many so-called SUVs today, some with only two-wheel drive, are good for riding over kerbs or heading for the snowfields on a miserable winter day or climbing the bank at the footy oval.  Not so handy for bush or beach tracks.

Still, this growing attraction of SUVs and faux-SUVs parallels to some extent the maturing of the Australian population.

These vehicles offer higher driving positions, easier entry and egress, less concern about those ubiquitous speed bumps plus all the comforts and conveniences of a modern hatchback.

There’s a wealth of choice these days from all corners of the motoring world.

And at a range of sizes and prices and badges.

Despite being one of the pioneers of the premium SUV class with that ever-popular X5 and then the smaller X3, BMW’s mantle had slipped askew at the bottom end of this particular sub-class where the compact BMW X1 was being beaten up by the likes of Audi’s Q3, the handsome Mercedes-Benz GLA and the Lexus NX.

So late last year an all-new BMW X1 arrived in showrooms.

Designed by Sydney-born Calvin Luk this is a better-looking wagon than the first generation of X1s; there is more muscle tone, more “SUVness” to a slightly wider body.

Built around a platform used for the Mini and BMW’s 2 Series Active Tourer, the X1 range for 2016 now also includes two front-wheel drive versions - the sDrive X1s - along with those all-wheel drive versions.

All offer better accommodation and classier cabins than before plus the usual, and quite lengthy, line-up of all manner of premium comfort features, right through to an automatic tailgate.

The latest two-wheel drive X1s should attract more custom from a wider range of folk. There is good room for four Australian-sized adults plus decent luggage space. The X1s use run-flat tyres so there’s no spare wheel taking up room.

The 141kW, 2 litre petrol sX1 at $51,600 offers a more sporting drive than the 1.8 litre diesel version but can’t match the claimed 4.3 litres per 100km of the diesel X1.

Both are comfortable and well-mannered wagons, even if there are sometimes questions about the grip and ride offered by those run-flat tyres.

And best to stick to the bitumen. These are premium SUVs, not go-anywhere machines.