The BMW X1 arrives to challenge the compact SUV segment

What is that?

The large front kidney grilles are a BMW staple

The range of BMW SUVs has changed dramatically over the years. We’ve seen more entries than ever as the company looks to capitalize on the ever-increasing demand for high-riding models. But the X1, its smallest SUV, has been around for some time, plodding along as one of the first in the compact segment of the market.

So, to keep it current as rivals descend the segment, BMW is introducing a new X1, bringing a wealth of changes alongside some of the latest technology it has to offer.

What’s new?


The X1 handles cornering well

At least from the outside, a lot has changed. The previous X1 was a decidedly compact looking model, while this new revitalized version is closer in design to the much larger X3. Up close, it’s actually hard to tell the two apart.

Inside, there’s an even greater focus on practicality and quality, with the X1 aiming to offer the kind of everyday usability that buyers in this area, mostly families, are looking for. A range of efficient engines are also available, with an all-electric iX1 coming soon.

What’s under the hood?


The 23i is one of the most powerful petrol engines in the range

As we’ve mentioned, BMW offers the X1 with a variety of engines, but the one we’re looking at – badged the X1 xDrive23i – uses a four-cylinder petrol engine with mild-hybrid assist to deliver 215bhp and 360Nm of torque, making it the punchiest of all the X1 combustion engine models. BMW claims a 0-60 mph time of just under seven seconds, which isn’t half bad for a car of this type. The addition of xDrive all-wheel drive means you get plenty of traction too.

Despite the relatively strong performance, the addition of that mild-hybrid assist means you could see up to 42.8mpg and CO2 emissions between 148 and 157g/km depending on spec. As you might expect, it’s the diesels that will prove to be the best fuel-efficient, with the entry-level X1 18d capable of returning up to 57.6mpg.

What’s it like to drive?


The X1 feels like a much bigger car to drive

The X1 has all the traits you’d expect to find in a much larger SUV, transplanted into this slightly more compact model. It’s quiet at speed, able to tackle the bumps and bumps in the road well, and has more than enough performance for most occasions. Visibility is good and this contributes to a very easy driving experience.

We did notice some lag in shifting, with the pause between stepping on the accelerator and the arrival of power proving to be quite noticeable, particularly when exiting junctions or entering roundabouts. That said, when you’re ready to accelerate, the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic shifts smoothly and precisely. It is particularly reliable when you want to downshift to overtake.

As it seems?


Alloy wheels are standard on all models

As we’ve mentioned, the X1 looks like some of the much larger SUVs in the BMW range. Up close, the chunky, box-like dimensions are actually quite alluring, at least to our eyes, and give the X1 an upright, anywhere-appropriate look. It’s a nice change from the other more rounded offerings in this part of the segment.

Our particular car, with xLine trim, has a more refined design than M Sport versions with sportier edges. So instead of the gloss black accents you’ll find on the sportier model, you get chrome applied to areas like the front grille and roof rails. For us it is the most interesting option.

How is it inside?


The interior is spacious and well decorated

BMW have really improved the overall look of the X1’s interior, making it a very pleasant place to be. The upright design of the car as a whole means there’s plenty of headroom for both front and rear occupants, while legroom for those behind is also decent. Everything has a nice sturdy feel – even the satin plastics on the dashboard aren’t scratchy.

There’s also plenty of trunk space. The rear seats split and fold 40:20:40 to give you some really flexible cargo options, but even with them in place, there’s 540 liters of space to play with. Fully fold down all those rear seats and that expands to a whopping 1,600 litres. It’s a nice square boot too, and there isn’t too much loading lip, so heavier items are easy to fit.

How are the specs?


The home screen is where you access most of the car’s main controls

There was a big push from BMW to raise the X1’s value for money, mainly through the addition of a lot of standard equipment. Things start at the sporty grade, but even here you get 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and BMW’s latest curved infotainment setup, accessible via a 10.25-inch screen. This too is joined by a digital driver display.

Our car, with xLine trim, starts at £38,190 and on top of all these standard features, you get 18-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats and all those aluminum exterior elements. Some Choice options, such as the £2,750 Technology Plus package with heated steering wheel, adaptive LED headlamps and head-up display, have bumped the price up to £46,440 so, as with all BMWs, keep an eye out for extras options to help keep prices low.


The SUV segment is awash with options but thankfully the X1 isn’t just another car for its own sake. It is based on two vehicle generations, so it has some heritage reinforcement, and cannot be considered a complete newcomer on the market. But it’s this, coupled with the excellent build quality and refined driving style, that helps make the X1 a very attractive proposition.

Go easy on the options list, and there’s no reason it can’t be affordable, either. Our only warning would be the arrival of the iX1 which, with its 270-mile range and high performance, could actually prove to be this regular car’s biggest rival.

  • Model: BMW X1

  • Tested model: X1 xDrive23i xLine

  • Price tested: £46,440

  • Engine: 2.0 liter turbocharged petrol engine

  • Power: 215 HP

  • Torque: 360Nm

  • 0-60mph: 6.9 seconds

  • Top Speed: 145mph

  • Economy: 40.9 – 42.8 mpg

  • CO2 emissions: 157 – 148 g/km

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