Maybe we’re spoilt because the test cars that are delivered to Car Couture are generally top of the range, or well specified. Journalists are fickle creatures, after all, and easily persuaded by the allure of leather seats and bum warmers.
So driving the SE model of the IS300h has been slightly tainted by the lack of leather and, perhaps even more surprising, the heated seats that are conspicuous in their absence. We’ve just become so used to pressing a button and feeling the warmth filter up from our seats.
My grandfather was actually the man who invented heated seats – he used to park his backside on hot water bottle with the tiniest drop of hot water inside. He was brilliant my grandfather – we could have made a fortune if Ford had heard of it.
These days, cars like the Range Rover and expensive BMWs have a heated steering wheel as standard. My grandfather probably never thought about an invention for that one but it probably would have includes rags and Selotape.
Remember when BMW introduced the infamous iDrive system in their cars? Ooh there was a fuss. Hated by both technophobes and those with conventional hands alike, BMW stuck with it. After a period of ‘refinement’ it’s now a relatively straightforward joystick for the navigation, media and telephone functions alike.
Lexus has a similar type of system in the IS but for some reason it has an oblong joystick, rather than round. That’s oblong in the sense that it’s not that easy to hold, or actually operate for that matter. This morning I was clicking through the screen options and found my cursor skipping all over the place.
It makes a sympathetic ‘bing’ when you want to connect, annoying but I’m sure you can switch it off. It’s my least favourite feature – that and the rather cheap looking centre console in the SE. I mean, this is a luxurious business car but it just doesn’t marry with the rest of the interior design, which is a cut above.
Apparently, the cockpit was inspired by the limited edition and very cool Lexus LFA. At least its bigger than previous IS cars, thanks to a wider wheelbase.
Last week I heard from an old friend who I knew as a teenager in Ross-on-Wye. He used to service my father’s Citroen CX – a car so complex under the bonnet that not even Haynes sold a user manual!
The CX has a spinning ball speedometer, self-centering steering and was, quite frankly, bonkers. My friend was brave enough to risk tinkering with crazy French engineering.
I just wonder what he would make of the X1 engine. Like every modern car, it’s so complex that filling the water bottle is about as far as most people go these days. Besides, it makes a mess of your warranty.
The 1.6 diesel in our X1 is a lot more lively than I thought it was going to be, at 11.5 seconds to 60mph. I’d probably opt for the 2.0d if I was buying an X1 but the 1.8 would be a good compromise.
We are currently averaging 43mpg, rather less than the 57.6mpg that BMW claim. However, I’m expecting over 550mpg from this tank of diesel, which is excellent. BMW claim 772 miles, which would be quite remarkable.