The BMW X1 grips well and doesn’t lean too much in corners – it’s sportier to drive than alternatives, but to get the best from it you’ll need to spend extra on options
The BMW X1 handles like the late great Jonah Lomu – it’s large but surprisingly light on its feet
Performance increases with the 190hp 120d and 230hp 125d without harming fuel economy too much, but the latter in particular is completely wasted in a sensible family car like this.
If you want to make your BMW X1 feel a bit sportier then the petrol 192hp 220i is a better option than the quicker diesels – it revs more freely, is smoother and sounds nicer. It gets from 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds and can return none-too-shabby fuel economy of 44.8mpg. Most important of all, it’s more than £3,000 cheaper than the 225d with the same trim.
The BMW X1 manages to be a very practical car that is also decent fun to drive. As ever with a BMW, to truly get the best from it you’ll need to spend a little extra money on options.
First on the list should be the excellent £1,600 eight-speed automatic gearbox. It shuffles through gears with a creamy smoothness that makes the BMW X1 extremely comfortable to drive but can also change gear quickly when you want to get a move on. It’s particularly worth considering if you do lots of town driving because it means you don’t have to operate the clutch in stop-start traffic. Its ‘creep’ function also makes low-speed manoeuvring easier than in an Audi Q3 automatic that tends to lurch at low speeds.
Parking the BMW X1 is easy because all models come with rear parking sensors and the car’s raised ride height gives you a decent view out. The only blind spot worthy of note is at the rear pillars on either side of the back windscreen, so if you’re not overly keen on reverse parking it’s worth spending £290 on a rear camera. It’s also worth paying £390 extra for the adaptive dampers. They let you choose between a comfortable ride on the motorway or in town, or a tauter setup when you want to give it the beans on a country road.
And that might happen more often than you think because although the BMW X1 is a practical family car at heart, it’s also good fun to drive with lots of grip in bends and remarkably little body lean.In fact, the X1’s only real weakness is the amount of tyre roar that gets into the cabin at a cruise because all but basic SE models come rolling on huge 18-inch alloy wheels. It’s more noticeable than in other small SUVs because the BMW X1 suffers from very little engine or wind noise.
And that’s all you really have to worry about on the motorway because the BMW X1 secured a five-star rating for safety in 2015 and comes with automatic emergency braking as standard.