Performance, chassis and space, much-improved style
Not cheap, interior a bit old-feeling, slightly brittle ride
What is it?
This is the second-generation BMW X1. The smallest BMW SUV. And this time around there’s been a big change. It’s based not on the natively rear-drive platform of the last one, but on the same front-drive/4WD setup as the 2 Series Active Tourer MPV, Mini Countryman and so-on. This means a transverse engine, and thus extra space inside for people and things. BMW claims the boot has grown in size by 85 litres to 505 litres, that all occupants get better head-, shoulder- and elbow-room and that rear-seat passengers get much more leg-room, too.
In size and space, this brings it into line with the meat of the big-selling family crossover market, such as the Ford Kuga. But of course it’s more expensive than the Ford and can be had with more sophisticated equipment such as a heads-up display. Not that you’d consider the Ford. The X1’s real rivals are the brand-new and really very good Volvo XC40, Jaguar E-Pace, Mercedes GLA and Audi Q3. And BMW itself has just launched the X2, which is to the X1 what the X4 is to the X3 and X6 is to the X5. A slightly less roomy, more ‘stylish’ option – albeit one that’s pretty much mechanically identical to the car on which it’s based. So the X1 is supposed appeal to the more practically-minded, but still quite badge-conscious among you.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
Go read our big group test – where we compare the X1 to the Jaguar E-Pace, Volvo XC40 and DS 7 – because it’s in such company that the X1’s main strengths and weaknesses are really revealed. It’s a very capable thing, probably the best all-rounder, but doesn’t excel in any one area. It’s a bit dull, its interior lags behind the Volvo’s and it doesn’t ride quite as well. This is such a competitive class now. You need a point of differentiation, and the X1’s is that it doesn’t really have one. Has appeal and no real, glaring flaws, but there are more interesting cars in this class.