BMW X1 SUV
BMW X1 SUV
Price £24,230 - £33,540
- Comfortable to drive
- Well equipped
- Appealing diesel engines
- Awkward styling
- Expensive to buy
- Heavy steering is a chore around town
At a glance
"Practical and comfortable, the X1 combines the driver appeal of a sporty hatchback with the practicality of an estate."
The BMW X1 SUV is as a crossover version of the BMW 1 Series. It offers a much more practical interior and a raised driving position that gives its driver a better view of the road. BMW offers the car with four-wheel drive for extra grip in slippery conditions or two-wheel drive for improved economy. The X1 goes head to head with cars such as the Audi Q3, Range Rover Evoque and the new Mercedes GLA.
BMW didn’t build the X1 with off-roading in mind – even if four-wheel drive is available – instead it focussed on making the X1 fun to drive on the road. An excellent range of engines, which includes one 2.0-litre petrol and a 2.0-litre diesel engine available with various power outputs, helps to make the car enjoyable. The popular xDrive 20d diesel gets from 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds and has four-wheel drive, but can still return fuel economy of up to 51.4mpg.
Trim levels include SE, EfficentDynamics, Sport, xLine, and M Sport - the BMW is quite an expensive car but standard equipment levels are generous. They include dual-zone air-conditioning (with separate driver and passenger controls), DAB radio, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
MPG, running costs & CO2
The EffiecientDynamics diesel model is capable of more than 60mpg
To get the best fuel economy possible, customers can specify their X1 in two-wheel drive – the company calls it sDrive – and the most economical version is the 2.0-litre diesel, with BMW's EfficientDynamics technology. It comes complete with engine start-stop, which rests the engine when the car is at a standstill and allows it to return fuel economy of up to 62.8mpg, while CO2 emissions of 119g/km translate into road tax of £30. It's slightly slower than the standard 2.0-litre diesel (which returns fuel economy of 57.6mpg and costs £110 to tax), but costs the same to buy. The 25d is impressively rapid and can achieve 47.9mpg.
The petrol engine is a quick but it makes little sense in a car such as this, and won’t achieve fuel economy better than 37.7mpg. CO2 emissions of 176g/km translate into pricy annual road tax of £225 a year.
BMW offers two packages that cover the regular maintenance of your BMW X1. The first is called Service Inclusive and covers the regular maintenance of the car for five years/50,000 miles, including MoTs. Replacements and labour are included on everything from electrics and lighting, to suspension and steering. Service Inclusive Plus is even more comprehensive and covers wear and tear items such as brake discs and pads, and wiper blades. It lasts for the same period and costs £1,280. Insurance prices run from group 18 in the 16d X drive to group 27 in the 25d.
Interior & comfort
Heavy steering makes the X1 a bit of a chore to drive around town
High-grade plastics are used throughout the BMW X1's interior, making it a pleasant environment in which to sit. Some may prefer the excellent interior of the Audi Q3, or the luxury of the Range Rover Evoque, but the driver-focussed dashboard makes the BMW feel sportier than both. The X1 has reach and rake adjustment for the steering wheel, and height adjustment for the driver's seat so getting comfortable is easy.
For an SUV, the BMW X1 doesn’t have particularly high suspension so your view of the road is only a little better than the one you get in a conventional car but standard rear parking sensors should make it easier to back into tight spaces.
The X1's sporty nature comes at the expense of stiff suspension, which can get uncomfortable at times. This is particularly true in M Sport models.
Practicality & boot space
Boot isn't the biggest in class but there's a load of useful cubbyholes
While the BMW X1 offers much more boot space than the BMW 1 Series, its 420-litre boot is 40 litres smaller than the Audi Q3's and a significant 155 litres short of the five-door Range Rover Evoque. Just like its rivals, the BMW's large boot opening gives excellent access and there's only a small lip to lift heavy items over. The back seats drop flat to reveal a total capacity of 1,350 litres and there's also a useful storage area under the boot floor.
The tall body of the BMW X1 means that headroom is generous in the front and back but the X1's short length means that rear legroom is less impressive. Another downside is the car's transmission tunnel, which eats up all the space where a middle passenger would put their feet.
Scan around the cabin and you’ll find no shortage of cubbyholes and the X1's door pockets will, with a bit of persuasion, swallow a large bottle of water.
Reliability & safety
Reliability should be good but there's still a few questionable materials inside
Our 2014 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey would not have made pleasant reading for BMW X1 owners, as the SUV tumbled 42 places from 2013 to finish 100th out of 150 cars. It was slated for ease of driving and ride quality, while build quality and in-car tech also scored poorly.
Reliability – where the X1 finished in 56th place – proved to be one of its stronger attributes. BMW executives will hope the recently introduced facelifted model can make significant improvements in customer satisfaction.
At least the poor performance in the owners’ survery doesn’t carry through to the car's safety – it got five stars when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP. It comes equipped with traction control, electronic stability control, a full range of airbags, ISOFIX child seat mounts, and a seatbelt reminder.
Engines, drive & performance
The high riding X1 is not as good to drive as the BMW 1 Series
On all but the 25d model, buyers can choose to have their BMW X1 with four-wheel drive or two-wheel drive. The former (called xDrive) means more grip in slippery conditions, but the X1 is still not going to be much use off-road - BMW wanted to make it excellent on-road and it succeeded, meaning the car has little body lean and impressive performance. Two-wheel drive, sDrive models are the most fun to drive and also more frugal.
The smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox is a £1,500 option we would go for, and it combines well with the 20d engine to be both comfortabl and quick. It can get from 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds in sDrive specification. The slowest model is the 16d, which gets from 0-62mph in a fairly dreary 11.5 seconds, while the quickest model – the 25d – does it in just 6.8 seconds. The petrol model might win some buyers round because it can match the 20d sDrive's acceleration time, but comes fitted with xDrive four-wheel drive.
Price, value for money & options
Competitively priced but still expensive to buy
The basic SE model comes with dual-zone air-conditioning (with driver and passenger controls), DAB radio, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, and 17-inch alloy wheels, while the EfficientDynamics model gets a host of extras to make it cheaper to run. The xLine gets 18-inch alloy wheels, an xLine leather interior, and satin inserts on the exterior, while M Sport models add xenon headlights, a leather interior, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a sporty body kit. Go for desirable options such as sat-nav (£1,800), an upmarket Harman/Kardon stereo (£600), and electrically adjustable front seats (£945) and it's easy to add a huge amount the list price of an X1.
The 16d model may be slow, but it holds its value better than any other model and should be worth 52 per cent of its original price after three years/36,000 miles. The quickest depreciator is the petrol model, which will be worth as little as 43 per cent after the same period. Both figures more or less match an Audi Q3 of a similar specification.
What the others say
Rear passenger space is on a par with a 3-Series, although headroom is better due to the higher roofline. Plus, the rear seatbacks adjust. The 420-litre boot is fractionally bigger than in most family hatchbacks and the seats fold flat, but while this means the X1 is more flexible than the 1-Series, it isn’t massively practical.
On the road, the X1 benefits from having characteristics from both cars and SUVs. BMW has kept body roll sufficiently in check to allow it to be capable of a lively back-road sprint and, when equipped with four-wheel drive, there's a good deal of grip too.
Make no mistake, the BMW X1 is a good product. But is it one that anyone will actually want?
The low running costs and sharp handling of BMW’s smallest SUV are appealing, but the cabin is a little short of space and quality.