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BMW X1 (2015 - ) Review

Introduced with curves and design lines that resemble a good-looking car rather than a boxy SUV – the X1 has come of age.

By Simon McBride
Oct 01, 2015
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From £28,330
Pros:
  • Handsome and sporty looking
  • Efficient engines return good fuel economy
  • Comfy ride
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • Some plastics on the inside could be of better quality

Introduction

There once was an ugly duckling… well that’s how some BMW sources termed the old X1 – the new version is much better. It is curvier, slightly wider and has a sporty stance that the old car never could quite achieve. With all that said, the X1 was and is an important car for the German maker. The first generation sold more than 730,000 on a global scale with nearly 40,000 finding homes in the UK.

A new range of engines and gearboxes, will be offered in the UK with one petrol engine and three diesel power plants offered from launch. It certainly looks much better, however, is it style and no substance or is the X1 the all-round package many have been craving for?

On The Road

Performance

From the ground-up, the BMW X1 is an all-new car. It uses completely new powertrain and chassis technology and also comes equipped with the newly developed BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system or an advanced front-wheel-drive configuration, depending on the model variant.

First up is the BMW X1 xDrive20i, producing 192hp from the new, four-cylinder petrol engine. This unit is mated to an eight-speed Steptronic transmission and it will complete the benchmark sprint to 62mph in 7.4 seconds and goes on to a top speed of 139mph.

Prefer diesel technology and there is plenty of options. The X1 will offer three units from launch.

The flagship power plant is the BMW X1 xDrive25d, pumping out231hp, and holds a record, it is the most powerful four-cylinder diesel ever fitted in a BMW. With peak torque of 450Nm available between 1,500 and 3,000rpm there is plenty of power and it’s quick too. It will accelerate from a standing start to 62mph in 6.6 seconds and has a top speed of 146mph. This engine is mated to a smooth-shifting standard-fit eight-speed Steptronic transmission.

Both the BMW X1 xDrive20d and the BMW X1 sDrive18d have been given a power hike increasing output by 7hp to 190hp and 150hp respectively.

This means the BMW X1 xDrive20d, which comes with the standard eight-speed Steptronic transmission (manual transmission is available from November 2015), accelerates from 0 to 62mph in 7.6 seconds and will go on to a top speed of 137mph.

The entry-level diesel engine on the BMW X1, sDrive18d will complete the benchmark sprint in 9.2seconds and has a top speed of 127mph. This model comes with a new six-speed manual gearbox while an eight-speed Steptronic transmission is also available.

Ride Handling

If you were thinking of purchasing the previous X1, looks, handling and off-roading was certainly not to the forefront of your mind. The second-generation X1 ticks all those boxes mentioned with great aplomb. The ugly duckling has turned into a graceful swan, agile in flight, it looks great and can rival the best off-roaders in its class. How times have changed, the X1 has finally arrived as a dynamic model.

There is a huge difference between the new X1 and its predecessor, this cars feels much more nimble which has been helped by a brand new chassis. The centre of gravity has been lowered optimizing the driving dynamics however, the boffins at BMW have not neglected the ride comfort and it too is much improved. The weight distribution of the car is pretty much 50:50 and it now features a wider track and short overhangs. This new model is comfortable on long motorway jaunts but it is also good fun on the twisty stuff – a hat tip to the engineers, a first class job.

The xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system is also available in updated form for the second generation of the BMW X1. The compact, low-weight and efficient all-wheel-drive system distributes the engine’s power between the front and rear axle just as the driver requires. This really helps when off-roading, the X1 is actually very impressive and can ascend and descend quite demanding terrain.

Even though the majority of X1 buyers may do no more than mount a kerb or two, the point is if you fancy a little bit of mud plugging then the X1 is more than capable.

M Sport suspension is also available on the X1 as an option, featuring firmer spring and damper settings and a 10mm lower ride height meaning the X1 is much more fun in the twisty stuff.

The driver can switch between driving modes too thanks to the Driving Experience Control switch on the centre console. This comes as standard and allows you to flick between COMFORT, SPORT or ECO PRO at the touch of a button. The modes adapt the responses of the accelerator pedal, gearbox, damper settings and steering.

Styling

On the refinement front, the X1 is very good, there is a little wind noise at higher speeds, mainly due to the A pillars being buffeted but on the whole the X1 is exemplary. Inside, the cabin is comfortable place to spend time in, it is well insulated and keeps the majority of road roar and tyre noise to a minimum.

Just like other BMW models, the ride is a touch firm, but remember to flick to COMFORT with the Driving Experience Control and this will aid long motorway journeys. Our pick is the 20d - it’s quiet and well geared making it enjoyable to drive. It’s comfortable too, there’s a decent level of bolstering from the front seats while space in the rear is reasonable without being overly spacious. 

In The Car

Behind the Wheel

BMW has enhanced the specification on the new BMW X1. Standard specification includes cloth seat in an Anthracite/Black combination, and interior trim strips of Oxide, Silver dark matt with accent strips in high-gloss Black.

There’s a range of sophisticated kit including the iDrive operating system with high-resolution 6.5-inch colour display, business navigation, an audio system with six loudspeakers and an AUX-in socket. A USB interface hands-free facility for telephones, the Driving Experience Control switch that allows you to flick between the driving modes and air conditioning is included too. That’s not all, BMW has also added automatic tailgate, front fog lamps, remote- controlled central locking and keyless engine ignition, electric window controls, electrically adjustable and heated exterior mirrors, a leather steering wheel adjustable for height and reach, a rain sensor including automatic headlight control, extended storage and front and rear isofix attachments

The flagship M Sport trim is fitted with the M aerodynamic package and 18-inch or optionally 19-inch M light-alloy wheels and LED headlights. On the inside, the X1 comes with heated front sports seats in anthracite-coloured cloth/Alcantara with blue accents, Aluminium Hexagon interior trim strips with accent strips in matt Blue. There’s also an M leather steering wheel and a BMW Individual headliner in Anthracite.

Optional extras include a Panorama glass roof, a CD player, a Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) receiver and Harman Kardon HiFi system, complete with 12 loudspeakers and a digital amplifier with 360-watt output.

Space & Practicality

Good news for prospective X1 buyers – the latest model comes with more space for passengers and luggage. The engineers have raised the seating position by 36mm in the front and 64mm in the rear when compared to its predecessor. There’s also increased headroom, shoulder room and elbow room . Knee room in the rear has also been enhanced by 36mm in standard specification and up to 66mm with the optionally adjustable rear seat. Boot capacity has grown too, with the seats in place, there’s 505 litres – that’s an 85-litre improvement on the first-generation X1 and larger than the Mercedes-Benz GLA as it has only a load space of 481 litres. Fold the seats flat and this expands the boot to 1,550 litres.

You can enhance the practicality even further by adding a 60:40-split rear bench as an optional extra and the best part is that the individual elements can slide forward or back by up to 13cms.

If you opt for the Comfort Access option, then this includes a hands- free tailgate opening and closing function – handy if your hands are full of shopping.

Ownership

Running Costs

The most frugal engine on the new X1 line-up is the 18d in the sDrive variant. It has a claimed average economy of 68.7mpg while emitting 109g/km of CO2 emissions. The most frugal xDrive model is also the 18d – it has a claimed average of 60.1mpg and emits 124g/km of CO2 emissions. BMW just like the other premium German makers have a reputation for pricey servicing but with this comes superb customer car. 

Quality & Reliability

On the whole BMW has a history of building cars that are reliable and well-made. The fit and finish on the new X1 is very good while BMW always tend to perform well in consumer surveys.

Safety & Security

Safety levels are high on the new X1. Plenty of bells and whistles are offered as standard including Forward vehicle collision warning with audible and visual warnings to the driver. Brake preconditioning, when driving over 30mph, an urgent warning activates brake preconditioning to prepare brakes ahead of driver use. City collision mitigation, proactively engages braking (up to 30 mph) for rapid reaction to potential vehicle collisions.

There’s a host of camera-based assistance systems icluding Driving Assistant with Lane Departure Warning, Speed Limit Info with No Passing Info display, the BMW Selective Beam anti-dazzle High Beam Assistant, as well as Collision Warning and Pedestrian Warning with City Braking function.

Driving Assistant Plus line- up also features the Active Cruise Control system with Stop & Go function – which maintains both a desired speed between 19–87mph and the Traffic Jam Assistant.

Park Distance Control and the rear-view camera, plus Parking Assistant are also available while ConnectedDrive Services enables the use of the BMW Online internet portal via the SIM card embedded in the vehicle, as well as the integration of smartphone apps into the car. 

More On This Car
Take one for a spin or order a brochure
Request a BMW X1 brochure
Request a BMW X1 test drive
By Simon McBride
Oct 01, 2015