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The exterior of a silver BMW X1

BMW X1 review

The X1 is BMW’s smallest SUV but it’s still extremely practical with a big boot and plenty of space. The X1 drives and handles better than most other SUVs, both on and off road.


  • Nimble and rewarding to drive
  • Good range of petrol and diesel engines
  • Roomy and practical with a big boot


  • You pay a premium for the BMW badge
  • Different option packs make finding the right used car harder
  • Insurance costs are higher than others


“Fun to drive, well designed and perfectly practical for everyday driving, the BMW X1 is a great choice.”

The BMW X1 is a stylish, well built SUV that’s ideal for everyday life. It’s roomy enough for all the family, whether you’re carrying three adults in the back or need to fit a child seat.

It’s available with BMW’s xDrive 4x4 system which helps your car to hold the road better in bad weather and on difficult surfaces. This helps to reassure drivers who are worried about wintery conditions.
The engine line-up includes both diesel and petrol, with entry models kicking off with the 1.5-litre. Trim levels start with the SE and rise through to Sport, xLine and M Sport models.

What’s the interior like?

“The BMW X1 has a well built and practical interior with a luxurious feel.”

The interior of the BMW X1 has a premium feel and an air of luxury. The upmarket aesthetic is perfectly complemented by the well laid out dashboard. All the buttons and controls are within easy reach, so it won’t take long to get used to.
There’s a standard six-inch infotainment screen in the centre of the dash, which is tablet-style and operated by BMW’s excellent iDrive controller behind the gear shifter. The iDrive controller helps you to control the climate, air con and audio system. Cars with the Nav Plus option package have a larger seven-inch touchscreen, plus a useful Head-Up Display (HUD) that projects information onto the windscreen in front of the driver so you don’t have to look down.

The front seats are extremely comfortable, which is great for long journeys. You can also seat three adults pretty comfortably in the back. There’s even an optional feature that lets you slide the rear bench back so you can balance how much space you need for luggage and rear legroom.

The X1’s boot can hold 505 litres, which is enough for a few large suitcases. The folding rear seat splits 40:20:40 for increased loading options. This means that you could comfortably sit two adults in the back with a long piece of furniture in the middle.

What’s it like to drive?

“It has a range of great engines and is fun to drive, but to get the best from an X1 you need to find one with extra options.”

The X1 handles corners well with very little body roll, which is something you can get in many SUVs. The X1 is well-suited to town driving with its high riding position that allows you to clearly see what’s up ahead.
The steering is quick and responsive, while the standard six-speed manual gearbox is smooth and slick. The optional eight-speed automatic is also excellent. It’s super smooth and promises a comfortable ride.

While it’s emphasis is on agile handling and driving pleasure, some rivals, such as the Audi Q3, are a little more comfortable due to their softer suspensions. The standard SE trim with 18-inch wheels delivers the most comfortable ride in the X1.

There’s a decent range of engine options in the X1 line-up, starting with a 1.5-litre petrol which offers more than adequate performance and a 2.0-litre petrol which is a two-wheel drive providing excellent performance. You can also opt for an X1 with four-wheel drive. The diesel engines are available with a similar level of performance and are all smooth, quiet and refined.

Is it cost-efficient to buy and run?

“The X1 is relatively pricey to buy and insure, but day-to-day running costs should be reasonable.”

The BMW X1 is a premium model that commands higher prices than many compact SUV rivals. That said, its popularity means that you should be able to find the version you want on the used market.
You’ll likely pay more for parts and labour, although you don’t have to stick with official BMW outlets if you can find a reliable alternative for servicing and maintenance.

All the engines are relatively efficient, which means you won’t be caught off guard by fuel consumption. The diesels are especially good in this respect. Watch out for insurance premiums as the BMW’s performance and potentially high repair costs could mean hefty quotes.

How reliable and safe is it?

“There shouldn’t be reliability problems and independent crash tests have proved the X1’s safety.”

A used BMW X1 should be a strong performer when it comes to reliability as the car shares so much ‘tried and tested’ technology with other BMW cars. It’s well made and BMW as a brand does quite well in this respect in most customer surveys.

Safety is excellent with Euro NCAP awarding the BMW a full five-star crash test rating. The only downside is that some of the more advanced safety systems are optional.

Which one is best for you?

Best for economy - sDrive18d SE
Best for family - sDrive18i SE

Best for fun - xDrive20i M Sport                   

All the cars in the X1 line up are good. The basic sDrive18i SE is suitable for most drivers who do an average annual mileage (around 12,000). The SE spec level is comprehensive enough and the 1.5-litre provides more than adequate performance for everyday driving. It’s also decently economical.

If you spend a lot of time on the motorway, the greater economy of the diesel may make more sense, but the entry-level sDrive18d is also a sensible choice. If you choose a higher-powered option, you’ll pay a bit more for the privilege.

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