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BMW X1, VW Tiguan and Land Rover Freelander in comparison test

Reinhard Schmid, Hans-Dieter Seufert
BMW X1, VW Tiguan, Land Rover Freelander
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S o How they stand next to each other is hard to believe. But the raised BMW X1 station wagon and the Land Rover Freelander off-road cuboid actually come from the same SUV caste. The difference in height is so great that the VW Tiguan as an all-terrain Golf fits in between - and there is an organ pipe gradation like in family photos.

Compact SUV VW Tiguan does not appeal to 4x4 fans

The spread within the SUV class could hardly be more striking. No other type of vehicle has developed in such different directions. How far away does the time seem when an all-wheel drive station wagon was the only alternative to the classic off-road vehicle. And even the latter has done a lot, like the spacious Land Rover Freelander. After all, it comes from a brand that has been building off-road vehicles since the dawn of the automobile industry - and whose smallest model nevertheless demonstrates an amazing talent for paved roads.

On-road ability is not even an issue in our test with the VW Tiguan. As a descendant of the Golf, it comes from the alienated compact class and appeals less to off-road vehicle enthusiasts than to family fathers. Above all, it offers you plenty of cargo space, a high seating position - and just in case, four powered wheels.

BMW X1 is available with all-wheel drive or with rear-wheel drive

You don't even expect all-wheel-drive competence with the BMW X1 (the BMW X1 in the driving report), because it looks so different from what you've learned Off-roader image in the direction of the Trutzburg station wagon, BMW-style, which means: The top priority is the pleasantly sloping rear. Load space and clarity are subordinate to it in the test. Logically, the Bavarians offer the SUV not only four-wheel, but also two-wheel drive. Because in a gravel pit, the BMW X1 will at most end up in a navigation blackout. Talent as an off-road vehicle is therefore only rudimentary in its genes; evolution drives it out of today's SUVs due to the lack of necessity. Instead of clutches, locks or additional transmissions, braking interventions must suffice to distribute power to the rear axle; after all, a so-called hill-descent control would help with the steep descent - if someone had forced the ascent beforehand. As it is, the button in the center console will probably never be pressed.

Dune, slope or snow - no problem for the Land Rover Freelander

The days of would-be insubordination are over with the Freelander. It has already proven several times that it accompanies its driver through thick and thin, and does not stop at sand dunes, gravel slopes or snow fields - if the customer opts for Terrain Response, the networking of engine control unit, accelerator pedal, traction control, ABS and hill start and departure assistance. In the test, however, the Land Rover takes part as a diesel TD4 in the basic configuration (from 29,900 euros); The concentrated terrain competence is only available from the next variant called S.

But even without terrain response, the Land Rover Freelander in the test of its competitors BMW X1 and VW Tiguan. What is remarkable is that he can follow them so well on the country road. Because even the ascent into the driver's cab and the sitting position at a lofty height lead to swings in the center of gravity. Because the Brit pampers his passengers with the best suspension comfort in the test and is accordingly softly tuned, the off-road vehicle actually sways excitedly as soon as it has to follow its two competitors in alternating curves on foot.

At least the Land Rover Freelander makes it in the test - as long as its driver diligently operates the gear lever that is precise and easy to guide, but which is a little too far back. However, he does not ask for sweaty cranking. The steering is smooth, but poor in feeling.

BMW X1 drives the competition around the ears in the test

Even more, one expects outstanding suspension comfort from the estate-like BMW X1 in our test. If it weren't for the praised-be-what-makes-hard philosophy. Described positively, the chassis gives intensive feedback; in negative terms, the off-road vehicle annoys the back with superfluous details. These land in undulating, tight corners even in the tightly tuned steering. As expected, the Bavarian SUV drives its conspecifics around the ears without demanding any sporty commitment from its driver.

On the contrary: the BMW X1 supports it with perfectly shaped and deeply mounted sports seats (580 euros). Agility gourmets can enjoy the rear-heaviness with load change reactions - thanks to Performance Control (150 euros) called braking interventions when turning in, it seems to choose the tightest possible radius in the test as if on a whistle.

VW Tiguan scores with balance

The VW Tiguan does not need to distinguish itself in the test with sportiness. He has a balanced character and relies on balance. Thanks to its adaptive chassis (1,045 euros) with the preselectable codes Comfort, Normal and Sport, the Wolfsburg has hardly any worse springs than the Land Rover Freelander and steersbut in the test it is much more precise, always remains calm and factual, cannot be disturbed by anything or anyone. This does not encourage emotions, but the realization that the golf descendant suits his man in everyday life. The rear bench can be adjusted in length and the backrest of the passenger seat can be folded down for the transport of XXL loads. Only the high loading sill bothers the test. In contrast to the previously rough pump-nozzle models, the diesel drive at VW is hardly any cause for complaint today. Nevertheless, the Tiguan's two-liter common rail achieved neither the smoothness, the thrust nor the willingness to turn of the four-cylinder engine built into the BMX X1 and has to rank behind the Land Rover Freelander in terms of shifting precision. In the test, the BMW X1 clearly wins the drive chapter.

BMW X1 with the slightest thirst

Its smooth-running and lengthways built-in row quad pulls in early, then pushes powerfully through the Middle and is almost jubilant towards the red area. The fact that it is also the most economical of the engines in the test is all the more pleasing with this willingness to work and, above all, relieves the wallet of frequent drivers. However, it does not shine in the test cost section, which is due to its exorbitantly high price. Bayern demand at least 32,400 euros for the 20d. After all, the off-road vehicle customer receives the most extensive safety equipment and the most effective brake in comparison. But even here the BMW X1 does not stand out clearly enough from the VW Tiguan in the test and only regains a few of the points that it lost in the body rating. Its weaknesses such as low payload, small trunk and poor all-round visibility are too strong in the score. But the biggest disappointment for BMW fans is the quality impression.

The Land Rover Freelander wins the test off-road

The interior of the BMW X1 does not exude a hint of premium charm. On the contrary: hard plastic spreads into the instrument panel of the SUV. The typically rustic ambience of the Land Rover shouldn't deter off-road vehicle fans, especially since the materials are cleanly processed - and for 29,900 euros compared to the VW Tiguan (32,675 euros) and, above all, the BMW X1. As the only real off-roader in the test, the Freelander does a respectable job and is the best choice for anyone who really wants to go beyond the field and farm roads.

In this comparison test, however, it cannot really compete with the two German fashion SUVs. Those who equate SUVs with a representative body shape, slightly raised seating position and sedan-like driving behavior these days will probably be more happy with the BMW X1 or the VW Tiguan. On the other hand, the fact that the BMW X1 puts a sporty character so clearly in the foreground in the test will secure the goodwill of the brand loyalistsbut did not win this group test. Once again, Volkswagen shows that if you want to leave a dispute victorious, you have to be balanced. The VW Tiguan showed neither extremes nor weaknesses in the test and knew about the power of its mediating character; it will bring him many more buyers.


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