The Asian Carmakers Corporation, the official importer of BMW cars in the Philippines, recently invited a group of motoring scribes to a “play date” with the new BMW X1. First introduced in 2009 and brought to our sunny shores in 2010, the BMW X1 is the first compact Sports Activity Vehicle of its kind, and boasts of a contemporary design, versatility, efficiency, and BMW driving dynamics.
You know they’re cooking up something special when your invitation is “personally delivered” to your office, in the form of a brand new BlackBerry Z10, which I was supposed to use to accomplish social media tasks that would earn points leading to the event date. Little did I know that this was already part of our introduction to BMW’s ConnectedDrive.
Our play date started bright and early when, over breakfast, we were introduced to the vehicle’s new features, and briefed about what was going to happen throughout the day.
“The new BMW X1 continues the BMW tradition of redefining elegance by being the first compact luxury Sports Activity Vehicle in the premium cars market,” said Maricar Parco, ACC president.
Meanwhile, ACC executive director Glen Dasig described BMW X1 owners to be “dynamic, confident, stylish, and successful individuals who are not afraid to live a fun life to the fullest.” Apparently, we were supposed to “experience what it’s like to be a BMW owner” even for a day—a boy, what a day it was.
Before heading out, we were given a few minutes to acquaint ourselves with the X1 landscape, starting with the iDrive that controls all of the functions of the infotainment system conveniently displayed on an 8.8-inch LCD panel. The knob and its eight keys control a host of intelligent functions from the simplest radio/music functions, to phone integration, navigation, driver profiles, and to the integrated user guide. We were also taught how to cancel the Auto Start Stop function, should we wish to do so.
My car mates Chris Kho (Kotse.com) and Jason dela Cruz (Top Gear/Esquire) were both on the tall side, so I immediately noticed that while the X1 had ample headroom, I would have appreciated a bit more legroom. Inside, we also noted that cabin noise reduction is significant enough to make you forget the diesel engine.
Going by our road book, we were barely into the third song of the playlist in the iDrive’s 12GB internal storage when we arrived at the archery range of the Manila Polo Club. BMW wanted us to try our hand at archery, and hired Olympic-medalist-turned-coach Joanne Chan-Tabañag to teach us the fundamentals. The activity culminated with a shoot-off to determine who among us was most likely to win in the Hunger Games (it was Arnold Belleza of Business World).
We then headed south to lunch at the Palms Country Club’s famous Nishijin restaurant. On the way to EDSA, we experienced the Auto Start Stop function that switches off the engine temporarily, to save on fuel and lessen emissions. Once we hit the highway, we let the 2.0L BMW TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder diesel engine stretch its legs, while experiencing the smooth shifting of the eight-speed automatic transmission with Steptronic it is mated to.
As expected, lunch was a gastronomic feast. Afterwards, we had some time to take some beauty shots of the cars, while appreciating the differences between the base model, and the two available variants. Probably the easiest way to distinguish the xLine from the Sport Line is the color of the radiator grille bars and bumper trims—matte titanium silver for the xLine and high-gloss black for the Sport Line.
After the mandatory photo-op, we headed back to Makati and were dropped off at Rustan’s, where we were scheduled for a massage at the spa, and a date with a personal shopper to get us ready for the evening’s activity.
Once everyone was spiffied up, we were driven to the trendy Stockton Place in Salcedo Village for more fine dining and wining, plus the awarding of special prizes. Aside from the social media tasks we had to accomplish a week prior to the event day, we also had to check-in and post BMW related stuff to earn points. Happily, I earned second place in the BlackBerry group, and got to keep the phone as my prize.
What else did I take home from this experience? In a perfect world, people who work hard, play hard. And since I’ve had a taste of what it’s like, expect that I’ll be working hard for a few more years until I’ll finally be able to play hard as well.
Words by Mika Fernandez-David
First published in Gadgets Magazine, September 2013