Donna Kelly has over 12 years of experience in the motoring industry, writing, test driving and tweeting about cars. Her weekends are spent trackside, covering racing events.
Prioritising everyday practicality and driveability over futuristic gimmicks and quirky styling, the X1 is a competitive alternative to the Audi Q3, Mercedes GLA, Range Rover Evoque and Volvo XC40.
Our BMW X1 review covers:
Since its launch in 2009, the X1 has received numerous facelifts to help keep it fresh in an increasingly competitive market. The latest X1 features styling similar to the larger X3 SUV with its distinctive C-shaped rear window line, new kidney grille, new headlight graphics and new bumper designs. Sport models boast bigger wheels and a tweaked exterior trim, while xLine models get gloss black exterior trim and a different wheel design. The top-of-the-range M Sport features a body-coloured trim and lowered suspension for an even sportier look.
Despite its name, the X1 is larger than the sister X2, thanks to its raised ride height and a bigger body style, making for plenty of space inside. Room inside the cabin is on par with the Volvo XC40, with a generous head and legroom at the front. At the rear, sliding and reclining rear seats means three adults can travel comfortably, and it's easy to fit a child seat.
Interior storage options include a pair of cupholders, deep door pockets with drinks holders, a small cubby in front of the gear lever and a cubby below the centre armrest.
At the rear, the X1's 505-litre boot is 85 litres bigger than its predecessor, expanding to 1,550-litres with the rear seats folded down. Compared to its rivals, this is 45 litres bigger than the Volvo XC40 and 55 litres bigger than the MINI Countryman. You can easily fit a baby stroller, a set of golf clubs or a few large suitcases in the square boot, but in terms of space, it's still outclassed by the Audi Q3 (at 530-litres) and Mercedes GLB (at 570-litres).
All models come with 40:20:40 split rear seats, meaning you can carry long items and rear passengers simultaneously. There's also handy underfloor storage and no boot lip, making for easy loading and unloading, however, the xDrive25e plug-in hybrid's battery does take its toll on storage space beneath the boot floor.
Inside, the X1 boasts a classy cabin with the build quality and luxury feel expected from a BMW, matching the Volvo XC40 and Range Rover Evoque for outright interior quality. Cloth trim with metal inlays come as standard, while leather upholstery is standard on high-spec M Sport and xLine models.
While the X1's dashboard lacks the flair of other rivals, contrasting stitching on Sport models and above adds some extra style, and its super-intuitive infotainment system is one of the best in its class.
There are four trim levels to choose from, including SE, Sport, xLine and M Sport.
The entry-level SE comes with generous specification as standard, including an 8.8-inch infotainment system with sat-nav, a power tailgate, rear parking sensors, air-conditioning, multifunction steering wheel and alloy wheels.
Sport models boast a racier appearance with bigger wheels, black plastic detailing, two-colour interior trim and sport seats, while xLine cars add satin aluminium trim and different wheel designs.
The top-of-the-range M Sport gets an even sportier look with body-coloured exterior trim, lowered suspension, part-Alcantara seat trim and LED headlights, along with lots of other tweaks inside and out.
Under the bonnet, the X1 comes with a wide choice of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines with front and four-wheel drive variants available.
There are two petrol engines to choose from, including a 138bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine (sDrive18i) and a 189bhp 2.0-litre engine, available with two-wheel (sDrive20i) or four-wheel drive (xDrive20i). The entry-level sDrive18i is the pick of for most buyers.
Diesel options comprise of a 148bhp 2.0-litre engine (sDrive18d) with six-speed manual gearbox and a 187bhp 2.0-litre engine (xDrive20d) with eight-speed automatic transmission. The sDrive18d is worth a look if you do lots of miles and are willing to consider a diesel, but all diesel engines are RDE2 compliant, meaning you won't be penalised when it comes to company car tax.
A plug-in hybrid (PHEV) is also available (badged xDrive25e), combining a 1.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor to produce 217bhp. This makes for an electric-only mile range of around 32 miles and seriously low CO2 emissions.
Out on the road, the X1 has a stiffer suspension than other family SUVs such as Range Rover Evoque or Volvo XC40, so you do feel bumps and potholes in the road a bit more. Adaptive suspension, however, is optional on M Sport models, allowing you to soften the suspension for added comfort or make it firmer to improve cornering.
Overall, the BMW X1 makes for a fun drive thanks to its precise steering and lack of body lean through tight corners. Its hushed engines also make for a quieter, comfortable ride, the X1 feeling at home both in town and out on the motorway.
Prices for the new BMW X1 start from £33,215.00 OTR* or to lease from £366.05 per month.
If you fancy yourself behind the wheel of the new BMW X1, car leasing may be a cheaper alternative than buying outright with a car loan or dealer finance. Car leasing offers many benefits over buying, including fixed monthly rentals, a lower initial outlay and the option to change your vehicle every two, three or four years.
All our BMW X1 lease deals come with the full manufacturer's warranty (from registration date), road tax, breakdown cover and free delivery direct to your door provided your address is situated on the GB mainland.
* 'On the road' price correct at time of publication and includes one year's road fund license, DVLA first registration fee and number plate fee. Prices are subject to change, always check with your nearest retailer.