School-leavers can't afford them but their mums are pretty keen

It's schoolies time at the Gold Coast with 10s of thousands of teens hitting the bars to celebrate the end of school - for ever. But amid the hordes of 18-year-olds, BMW held a launch of a revamped X1 which was, coincidentally, fitting.

Not that the school-leavers can afford the $65,000-plus vehicle but because picking them up from the airports around Australia will be mums who are more than likely driving an X1 Sport Activity Vehicle (SAV) - or aspire to own one.

Since it's launch in 2009, more than 300,000 X1s have sold worldwide and that figure is bound to climb as its now for sale in the United States after its New York motor show debut this year.

So midway though its lifecycle, BMW gave the vehicle a makeover. The exterior varied thanks to more paint on the body's aprons rather than black plastic while the side indicator lights were integrated into the side mirrors.


The headlights had been redesigned with the LED lights, giving the SAV a distinctive "eyebrow and eye" appearance, with new fog-lamp surrounds adding to the look.

Still, the exterior has a chunky look compared with its SAV competition - the Range Rover Evoque and Audi's Q3. I think that the next generation needs a few sessions with an auto equivalent of boot camp plus a visit to the vehicle plastic surgeon for a nose job to create a more understated and refined look.

The inside of the revamped X1 has the addition of new, higher quality materials covering the centre console, centre panel trim surrounds and new chrome trim elements that combine to create a premium look.

Although the Range Rover Evoque still wins the prize for the best looking interior in the mid-size SAV category as it went for the minimalistic approach.

New Zealand has five models in the X1 line up, starting with a 1.8-litre diesel for $65,000 and topping off at $87,000 for the 2.8-litre petrol. A 2-litre petrol ($69,000) and 2-litre diesel (from $71,000) are also available.

The range came in xDrive variants with all-wheel-drive, with the sDrive vehicles having a more sporty look. All models have as standard features dynamic stability control plus hill descent control used for navigating steep off-road territory.

If you feel like beefing up your X1, there was the M Sports package for $5000 that gave you such feature as 19in alloys, over the entry-level 17in wheels, sports seats, M Sport suspension and performance control.

All our X1s will come with an eight-speed auto transmission as standard and if you wanted a manual you'd have to order one from your BMW dealership. Not that it needs it as you have the use of steptronic - so you can change gears using steering-wheel paddles or the gearstick.

To avoid all the schoolies, the Australian launch took us to the Gold Coast's stunning Hinterland.

First up was the 2-litre diesel xDrive, that powered along nicely on the inclining, winding roads, before I nicked a 2-litre petrol. It was quicker off the mark than the diesel but both engines sat steady once at cruising level.

For the sprint to the airport it was back into a diesel - this time in the 1.8-litre base-model version. Despite the difference in torque - 320nM for the 1.8-litre and 380nM for the 2-litre - the diesel models both proved capable long-drive vehicles with the bonus of greater fuel efficiency over the petrol versions.

With a length of 4.477m and 1.798m wide, the vehicle slipped easily into a park at Coolangatta airport where the locals were preparing themselves for the next onslaught of schoolies.