BMW X1 Reviews
The BMW X1 is a fine all-round performer, and a huge step on from its flawed predecessor
Should I buy a BMW X1?
The X1 is a highly competent small SUV of great all-round ability. Great to drive, good to look at and with a satisfyingly premium feel (and badge), it satisfies those who are looking for a feel-good, luxury product. Yet, at the same time, with all the space you could reasonably need or expect, plenty of practical cabin features that make living with it a breeze, and the potential for excellent fuel economy, it appeals to the head, just as much as it does the heart. It’s certainly not the cheapest car in its class, but it is one of the best.
Contrary to what you might expect, being based on the front-wheel drive 2 Series Active Tourer (rather than the 3 Series Tourer as the previous X1 was) does the second-generation X1 no end of good – not only because the MPV 2 Series is a more practical starting point, but also its proportions and appearance are more SUV-like. BMW X1 reviews all note that the new X1 looks far better this time round, and more like the SUV that it actually is.
What’s it like on the road?
With the Active Touring being one of the best handling MPVs around, new car reviews all state that the X1 has benefited on the road as well. Despite being driven by the front and not the rear wheels this time, reviews are in agreement that the X1 is now one of the best handling cars in its class. Composed, well controlled and agile, it feels more like a good family hatchback through the corners than a high-riding SUV.
The ride comfort has also improved considerably over the previous generation X1, making this a comfortable, as well as entertaining, car to drive. It’s generally very undemanding to drive, in fact. All of the controls are precise and light, and the optional, smooth-shifting automatic gearbox is very good. Visibility is decent, except that the upswept rear pillars limit rear visibility, but with parking sensors as standard, this isn’t a huge problem.
Which engine is the best for me?
Always a BMW strong point, the engines of the X1 offer great performance and class-leading fuel economy figures. The range is small, with just one 2.0 diesel available with three power outputs (150hp 18d, 190hp 20d and 231hp 25d) and a 2.0 petrol with 192hp. Reviews recommend either the 18d or 20d variants, although you’ll have to consider carefully whether you need four-wheel drive. The 18d is the only model available in two-wheel drive and it’s capable of up to 68.9mpg combined, while the corresponding figure for the four-wheel drive version is 60.1mpg and the 20d 58.9mpg.
Will it be nice to live with?
The interior is without a doubt the X1’s trump card. Spacious, functional and versatile, it is easy to live with and a pleasure to spend time in. Passenger space in the front and back is generous, with tall adults able to sit one behind the other in comfort, while the boot is large, well shaped and accessed via a standard electric tailgate. The rear seats slide and recline, as well as splitting and folding in a 40/20/40 arrangement, and a folding front seat is optional. There are numerous storage solutions scattered throughout the X1’s interior, too.
Material quality and dashboard design is reported as being very good, up with the Audi Q3 (reviewed here), while the seats offer a wide range of adjustments and are mostly very comfortable. The technology offered is good too. All versions come with an easy-to-use infotainment system, featuring satellite navigation, Bluetooth, DAB and a colour screen, along with dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors and automatic lights and wipers.
How about the costs?
The X1 is certainly not the cheapest car in the class, but then it does feel like a higher quality product than, say, the Nissan Qashqai (which we have reviewed here). However, even with direct rivals like the Q3 and Mercedes GLA, the X1 doesn’t compare all that favourably. Another problem is that the range is quite limited: if you want a more powerful engine than the 18d, you have to upgrade to far more expensive trim levels that generally only bring superficial (if desirable) extras like body styling enhancements or leather seats.
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