BMW X1 Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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What is it like to drive?

BMWs have always stood out in their field for being the sharpest handlers with the most satisfying powertrains – something the latest, updated 3 Series can still proudly claim. The X1 arrives at the party with neither; a Ford Puma is more of a giggle to drive, and numerous rivals make engines more refined than those offered here.

The entry 18d isn’t bad – it’s smooth and quiet by small 4cyl diesel standards – but the seven-speed DCT is rather hit-and-miss at finding the right gear, and there are no paddles on the wheel to help out unless you go for pricey M Sport trim. Which feels very un-BMW.

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The 23i petrol is less impressive, being so vocal and coarse under high revs that the diesel seems the quieter choice. However, the 20i, 23i and 23d do get 48V mild-hybrid tech, meaning in M Sport trim you get an amusing 19bhp boost when you pull the left paddle, useful for overtakes.

So electric is best, then?

To cut a long story short, it’s a good job the iX1 is available. Because otherwise the X1 wouldn’t really stand proud of its very crowded market on a purely dynamic level. That’s not to say it’s bad; for the task at hand, this is an accomplished car. And one with a very neat and tidy approach to cornering.

The iX1 is a bit of a chunky monkey – at 2,085kg it’s over 300 kilos heavier than a comparable petrol or diesel – but it handles the mass as well as you could hope for while the powertrain operates with utmost professionalism. 

The rear motor’s intervention is uncannily smart, however clumsily you apply the throttle out of a junction. It feels safe to assume this will be the X1 of choice, with one of those plug-in hybrids in second place if you can’t live on electricity alone. Click these blue words for our in-depth iX1 review.

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Anything else to add?

All ICE models, whatever their power or price, use a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox. It’s a move indicative of the whole car; the X1 would rather you didn’t think of it as the token entry-level crossover it might once have been, so it’s matured both physically and technologically to hammer the point home.

There’s a wealth of active safety technology; traffic light recognition is built into the semi-autonomous driving functions while self-parking is standard fit. Trailer assist is optional should you wish to live out the more lifestyle pictures of the brochure.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

BMW X1 Xdrive 23I MHT Msport 5DR Step Auto
  • 0-627.1s
  • CO2
  • BHP204
  • MPG
  • Price£41,195

the cheapest

BMW X1 Sdrive 20I MHT Sport 5DR Step Auto
  • 0-628.3s
  • CO2
  • BHP156
  • MPG
  • Price£33,500

the greenest

BMW X1 sDrive 18i [136] M Sport 5dr [Tech Pack II]
  • 0-629.7s
  • CO2125.0g/km
  • BHP136
  • MPG
  • Price£34,460

Variants We Have Tested

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