BMW X1 SUV
- Good to drive
- Cheap to run
- Expensive to buy
- Baffling list of optional extras
- Basic models two-wheel-drive only
At a glance
"The BMW X1 is a practical compact SUV that's a lot more stylish than its predecessor."
The BMW X1 is a premium compact SUV and the smallest off-roader in the brand's range. The term ‘compact’ is a bit deceptive here, however: although it's 15mm shorter than its predecessor, it's also 53mm taller and 23mm wider. It's also styled more like an SUV than the previous model, which just looked like a high-riding 3 Series estate.
The X1 has many rivals to contend with, including the Audi Q3, Mercedes GLA-Class and desirable Range Rover Evoque. It also has to compete with rivals from more mainstream brands, such as the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage and Honda CR-V.
Unlike the somewhat awkward-looking first-generation X1, this latest model has been designed to look more like its larger X3 and X5 sister models and definitely has a more attractive shape than its predecessor.
There are four main trim levels to choose from: SE, Sport, xLine and M Sport. Inside, the X1 is just like any other BMW: well built, logically laid-out and driver-focused. Even the basic SE model is well equipped, as satellite navigation and a powered tailgate are standard across the range.
The X1 can be fitted with either a 2.0-litre petrol engine (in the four-wheel-drive-only xDrive20i model) or a 2.0-litre diesel, which offers three different power outputs. The xDrive20d looks like the best bet on paper, but we’ve only driven the most powerful xDrive25d so far, so we’re reserving final judgment until we’ve sampled the entire range.
In terms of dynamic ability, the X1 is a vast improvement over the previous model. It uses the same mechanical platform as the MINI hatchback and the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, so handling is good and it's a capable car either on or off-road.
All in all, then, the new X1 is a much better SUV than its rather flawed predecessor. It's now a much stronger contender in the premium compact SUV class than before.
Fuel economy is good across the range and the BMW X1 is available with a good-value service package
The BMW X1 handles well, but the top-of-the-range xDrive25d is more powerful than anyone would really need
The BMW X1 has sat nav as standard across the range and can be fitted with a huge amount of extras
The BMW X1 is spacious in the rear and has a very competitive boot size
Tried-and-tested parts should help the BMW X1’s reliability case but some useful safety kit is optional