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whitby 08-25-2012 09:59 AM

Question on comparing xDrive28i to xDrive35i?
Hi, my wife and I are long time BMW owners (owned 11 of them and currently own a 2006 Z4 3.0Si Coupe and a 2012 528i) and are looking to buy a new xDrive X1. We have certain requirements that demand we buy the 4 wheel drive versions and it has nothing to do with snow in Austin, Texas !!

We have driven the xDrive35i and sDrive28i on extended test drives (several hours each time on a mixture of highway, urban and twisty backroads) but not the xDrive28i. We are looking to buy an xDrive version but wanted input on the xDrive28i. We are both experienced drivers and enjoy the driving experience (hence the addiction to BMWs) and will go out to drive our favourite roads simply for the fun of it. In order to calibrate our feelings on the models we have driven here are our driving impressions of the two models we drove:

1. sDrive28i was an MSport model with 19" wheels and handled and drove well, although the 2 Litre N20 did not feel as 'torquey' as the one in the 528 which was a surprise. We suspect this had something to do with the transmission gear ratios/change up and down points. The car felt lively and handled very well. Steering was numb (it is electric on the sDrive models) but overall the car had a light 'chuckable' (the feeling that the car would do anything you asked of it) feel to it and was fun to drive. We both liked the suspension setup and the MSport additions. interior was drab. The exterior was Valencia Orange which we both like, but the interior was black with aluminum panels. It tended to look and feel cheap on the inside which was exacerbated by the lack of the navigation system. This can easily be changed by better choice of inside colours and finishes. On our test run we achieved 26 mpg.

2. xDrive35i felt heavy and ponderous in comparison. Steering was more precise and had better feel, no doubt due to hydraulic assist in the xDrive models. The car felt less 'chuckable' and gave us less confidence on the twisty roads, although it handled perfectly and as well as the xDrive 28i . This was an xLine model with navigation and matte wood finish and felt much more upmarket. What was a surprise, however, was that the N55 engine did not feel that much more powerful, although it had longer legs than the N20. BMW claim almost 1 second better to 60 mph which I have no reason to doubt, but it certainly did not feel like it. It certainly sounded better than the N20 but tended to drone at certain speeds. What was also disappointing is that it used the older 6 speed box and shifter which probably results in poorer mpg figures. On our test run we achieved 19 mpg.

Based on the above the xDrive28i seems the way to go, so after all that here is the question. Does the xDriver28i retain the feel of the sDrive28i or is it the 4 wheel drive and hydraulic steering setup that gave the xDrive35i the more heavy and ponderous feel?

Teleskier 08-25-2012 11:24 AM

My guess is that the much heavier 3.5 engine negatively impacts the handling characteristics. I've only driven 2.8 Xdrive models, where I liked its thrust to weight ratio and handling.

the_fox 08-25-2012 01:30 PM

Slight correction, it's a 3.0 vs 2.0 engine, not 3.5 vs 2.8. But I do remember reading a review for the F30 that it does change the handling a little bit. Best would be to drive both and compare.

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