Sporty small SUV is great to drive

This is the average score given by leading car publications from 7 reviews
  • Great to drive
  • Powerful engines
  • High-quality interior
  • Firm ride
  • Expensive options
  • Lots of cheaper rivals

£27,440 - £36,720 Price range


5 Seats


44 - 68 MPG


The BMW X1 is a small SUV with sporty aspirations that is now in its second generation. It’s up against strong competition in the face of the Audi Q3, Mercedes-Benz GLA and the Lexus NX.

The X1 interior is mostly the same as in the 2 Series Active Tourer – it is made from high quality materials and feels robust. Seats have been raised over the previous model and now offer superb all-round visibility.

As with any other BMW, the X1 is really good to drive. It has a lot of grip, thanks to its optional four-wheel-drive system and goes around bends with minimal body roll at speeds way higher than what a small SUV should be able to.

The engines powering the X1 combine power and fuel economy like no rival. The addition of the new eight-speed automatic gearbox makes it even cheaper to run.

The X1 is particularly well equipped in entry-level form – untypical for BMW. It gets the iDrive 6.5-inch infotainment and satellite navigation system, air conditioning, leather-wrapped steering wheel and an electrically operated boot.

Our dimensions and colours guides can help you to spec the perfect BMW X1 or check out the upcoming X2 Coupe SUV in our dedicated price, specs and release date article.

The X1 interior is heavily influenced by the one in the 2 Series Gran Tourer and it’s equally well made and solid. All of the controls are slightly pointed towards the driver and this brings a hint of sportiness to the interior. Most of the trim pieces are nice to look at and to touch, but critics complain that some plastics feel disappointingly cheap.

BMW X1 passenger space

There is increased passenger space over the old X1 and a six-foot adult can sit behind a tall driver and still have reasonable amounts of head and legroom. The seats are very comfortable and supportive and offer a range of adjustments, so the driver can find a perfect position easily.

BMW X1 boot space and storage

In terms of practicality, the new X1 is much improved over the outgoing car – the 505-litre boot is 85 litres bigger than before. The increase in space over the old model is even more evident when you fold the rear seats to reveal a 1,550-litre load area that is 200 litres bigger than in the old X1. BMW’s Extended Storage is standard so you get lots of nets and tie down points around the cabin and all cars come with an electrically opening boot.

The new X1 shares much with the 2 Series Gran Tourer in terms of driving dynamics as well. The intelligent all-wheel-drive system that can send power to the wheel that most needs it offers plenty of grip and the direct steering makes the car feel very capable and safe.

It is not as engaging to drive as a 3 Series, but the X1 is very composed around corners with minimal body roll.

Being a small SUV the X1 comes equipped with a hill descent control, but we don’t recommend taking it off-roading – the Range Rover Evoque is much better in the mud.

The engine line-up consist of three diesels and one petrol – all turbocharged and all under £130 a year to tax. There is a choice between a six-speed manual and an eight-speed automatic. The auto is recommended by reviewers for its fast and refined operation.

BMW X1 diesel engines

All of the diesels are 2.0-litres in size but come in different power levels. The 18d has 150hp, can return a fuel economy of 68.9mpg and costs £30 to tax a year.

BMW X1 xDrive

The 18d is front-wheel-drive only and if you want the extra grip of the xDrive then opt for the 20d model that isn’t far off in terms of running costs – fuel economy for it sits at 57.6mpg and it costs £110 a year to tax. The top of the range 25d can do 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds while returning a combined fuel economy of 56.5mpg. It emits 132g/km of CO2 so it will cost  £130 a year to tax

BMW X1 petrol engines

The only petrol engine is also a 2.0-litre developing 190hp, but with fuel economy of 44.8mpg and costing £145 a year to tax it’s no match for the diesels in terms of running costs. However, it is an eager and silent engine and if you plan on using the X1 for short trips it’s not a bad choice.

The X1 scored top marks at the 2015 Euro NCAP crash tests and was commended on child protection. It also got high scores across all categories thanks to its range of active safety systems such as forward vehicle collision warning and automatic city braking that is active at speeds up to 30mph. When driving above 30mph the brake preconditioning system prepares the brakes before the driver presses the pedal to cut stopping distances.

Standard equipment is good, but as with any other BMW, be careful with the options list as it can double the car’s price. For example, Bluetooth phone connectivity costs £350 and external folding mirrors cost £420.

BMW X1 M Sport

Rather than specifying individual options it makes more financial sense to choose  a higher trim level. M Sport is one of the most popular amongst X1 buyers and plays well to the car’s image as a sporty SUV by adding equipment such as an M Sport body kit, 18-inch alloy wheels and LED lights that follow the curves in the road. Its also nicer inside than the basic model thanks to an Alacantara leather interior, sports steering wheel and M Sport gear shifter.

Read our colour and dimensions guides for the BMW X1.


The new BMW X1 is a more grown-up version of the outgoing car and it boasts better styling, improved engines and a more modern interior. It may not be cheap, but is a car with broad abilities that can serve a multitude of purposes very well and remains one of the most fun-to-drive SUVs currently on sale.