First Drive: BMW X1 xDrive 25d xLine Step Auto 5dr Reviews 2023 | Top Gear
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First Drive

First Drive: BMW X1 xDrive 25d xLine Step Auto 5dr

£38,380 when new
Published: 16 Jul 2015


  • BHP


  • 0-62


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  • Max Speed


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A new X1. What's the big deal?

It's an all-new car sprung out of a new (for BMW) way of doing things. The first-gen X1 was essentially a rear-drive car with a longitudinal engine and optional 4WD. The new one is transverse-engined, and the 2WD versions are pulled along by the front wheels. In other words, like everyone else's small crossovers.

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The platform is as per the 2-Series Active Tourer and new Mini Clubman. But it has more ground clearance than either, thanks in part to bigger wheels and taller tyres. Hardly a rock-crushing off-roader, then, but all most people will need.

What does that do for the looks? Don't transverse engines usually mean dumpy proportions?

Not here. Unusually, this is a car that has toned up nicely in the transition from rear-drive to front. The old X1 was a sort of lifted estate car with an awkward, bony look. The new one has a higher roof and deeper, stronger sides. 

A conventional crossover SUV? Bet the brochure is full of mountain-bikers.

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Yup, and windsurfers and climbers and and hang-gliders and even base jumpers.

Rather than people dropping off the kids at school and loading packets of kitchen roll from a supermarket trolley into the boot…

Quite so. But then, it's good at those duties. Not just short-haul family shunting either. The X1 will do long-trip luggage-encumbered work too. Swapping to a transverse engine has freed up lots of cabin room. Even lanky teenagers should find the rear seat acceptable, and behind lies a big, deep, double-floored boot. 

Sounds like a 2-Series Active Tourer…

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Yes, because the new X1 is basically a 2AT for people who don't like the idea of MPVs. It has much the same package – actually the X1's boot is slightly bigger because its rear overhang is greater. You can spec both cars with split-and-slide rear seat arrangements. If you match engine, transmission and number of driven wheels, you find the X1 is only about 30kg heavier than the 2AT.

How does it drive?

The one TopGear tried was a 25d XDrive. All the X1s now have engines from BMW's all-new family, and this powerful diesel makes a whole lot less racket than the old one. Unusually for diesel it has an an aluminium block, which saves weight but tends to allow more noise out. Still, it uses a balance shaft to compensate.

Its 231bhp can shift the 1575kg with useful urgency. By which I mean 0-62 in 6.6 sec. It has an eight-speed auto that shifts itself smoothly, but when you want to over-ride it via the paddles it gives you a small but noticeable thump, as if to say it knows best. (It doesn't. Not always. No auto does.)

How about the handling?

On this 4WD one, it's pretty shipshape. The X1's steering is precise and sharp enough, and the chassis can keep up with it as long as you don't ask for anything silly. It all feels progressive and nicely balanced. The torque split front-to-rear is varied electronically according to the circumstances, which works so well you never notice it happening. If you do ask for silly speeds, the suspension goes soggy and the tyres scream for clemency. You can spec adaptive dampers, but our test car didn't have them and didn't feel deprived.

The old X1 handled decently too as I recall. Its problem was the ride. Any progress?

Much. Things are now a lot less turbulent. It's not exactly sofa-soft, but then cars like that sometimes make kids sick. The new X1 is composed without being at all hard. Wind noise is much lower now too. So when you take into account the quieter engine and extra space you've got a fine all-rounder.

Is it good value?

The X1 would fairly be described as 'premium': definitely well beyond Ford Kuga territory. But then look at an Evoque or Discovery Sport, and they go slower and drink more – the 25d XDrive rates at just 132g/km for a notional 56mpg...

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