BMW has one of the most extensive crossover and SUV line-ups in the UK, and sitting at the most affordable end of the spectrum is the X1.
Introduced in its current form in 2015, it’s now BMW’s best-selling SUV around the world, and has been given a mid-life update to keep it up to date with newer models, such as the Audi Q3 and Volvo XC40.
As part of this refresh, BMW is introducing the first plug-in hybrid powertrain into the X1 – the same setup found in models like the 225xe MPV and Mini’s Countryman PHEV. That will arrive in the middle of 2020.
Elsewhere the X1 has been refreshed with new styling – incorporating a larger grille, LED headlights and LED foglights. Each makes the X1 look more like the larger X3 and X5 than it ever did before.
BMW’s excellent iDrive infotainment system has also been updated, while a head-up display is also available. The popular M Sport grade also benefits from streamlined styling and a more impressive aerodynamic package.
In the UK, the X1 will be offered with four 2.0-litre engines – two being petrol and the other two diesel. The petrol 18i and 20i versions are expected to be the most popular, while the 18d and 20d diesel engines will cater for those who cover higher annual mileages.
The launch we attended in Munich annoyingly only featured two engines that we won’t get in the UK – the 25i and 25d. While we don’t know how the UK engines will perform, these engines gave us a good indication. Both ‘25’ engines produce the same 228bhp, though the diesel’s 450Nm packs 100Nm more torque than the petrol unit. Each is smooth, refined and delivers an excellent punch, and the UK engine line-up will likely be very similar.
Those looking for the best performance should opt for the 20i, which is able to accelerate from 0-60-mph in 7.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 138mph. Meanwhile the 20d is the most efficient – returning up to 64.2mpg, with CO2 emissions as low as 116g/km.
Ride and handling
BMW is known for its models being great to drive, and the X1 is no exception. The steering is well-weighted and direct, while the ride remains smooth if the car is kept in ‘Comfort’ mode. There is also a limited amount of body roll, with the X1 feeling nearly as dynamic and agile as the 1 Series hatchback.
Flicking the X1 into ‘Sport’ mode results in an improved throttle and steering response, though it only really proves to be useful when you’re overtaking – leaving it in ‘Comfort’ mode is the best option really. Even with the sportier suspension in M Sport trim, the ride remained comfortable, too, though avoiding the larger 19-inch wheels is advisable if you’re looking for optimal comfort.
Interior and equipment
Inside it feels like just about every other modern BMW – certainly no disadvantage. The excellent 10.25-inch infotainment display fitted to M Sport models is superb, and undoubtedly one of the best systems around now that it has received BMW’s latest update. All the controls are easy to use, while the semi-digital dials remain easy to read.
The X1 also has practicality on its side, with a plentiful amount of space in the rear for adults. The 505-litre boot is also generous, though it’s far from class-leading.
Four trim levels are available on the X1 – SE, Sport, xLine and M Sport.
SE comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, LED headlights and front and rear parking sensors, with Sport adding 18-inch alloy wheels, ambient LED interior lighting. Revised styling and sports seats.
The xLine brings rugged looks thanks to its underbody protection and matte silver exterior accents, while also adding a leather interior with heated front seats. Meanwhile the popular M Sport comes with a sporty bodykit that incorporated 18-inch ‘M’ alloy wheels, revised bumpers and further gloss black detailing.
Prices for the X1 start from £28,795, which makes it more than £2,000 cheaper than the Audi Q3, though similarly priced to the Volvo XC40.
Prices for range-topping versions don’t exceed £40,000, though it’s not available with the more powerful engines that you find with rival cars.
The X1 continues to impress with its handsome looks, well-built interior and fantastic drive. It’s a great option for those looking for a compact SUV, and despite it being the entry-level route into BMW SUV ownership, it feels far from that.
The package will only get even more enticing once the plug-in hybrid version joins the line-up, but for now it’s one of the best compact SUVs available.