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Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review: BMW X1

Overall verdict
By going transverse-engined the X1 has become technically less distinctive, but more useful in the real world


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.