If you’re expecting the X1 to offer handling somewhere between a small saloon and an SUV, then you’re right. But just as the car is closer to a 3 Series than an X3 in concept, so its driving experience is much closer to that of a regular four-door BMW saloon.
Yes, there is a smidgen more roll in corners than in a 3 Series, but the X1 does a good job of keeping its extremities under control. It turns in keenly and settles rapidly, making it easy to enjoy on a flowing B-road.
Were this entertainment value achieved at the expense of ride quality, it would be harder to praise, but the X1 is very compliant, particularly on versions equipped with normal tyres instead of run-flats.
The compliance could be down to the slightly increased suspension travel over the 3-series, but there is a more forgiving nature to the set-up. We’d even call it comfortable, and it deals with urban speed bumps well.
It’s not perfect, mind; there is an element of the rebound damping that can occasionally be caught out by sharp bumps on motorways (bridge joins are the main culprit). The car feels just a little too keen to settle, resulting in a sharpish jolt, but it’s a price worth paying for the X1’s composure through corners.
If we do have a worry, it’s the steering. Although it provides the sort of feel that you expect from a hydraulically assisted BMW system, it is surprisingly heavy, and while drivers of the 1 Series and 3 Series won’t be put off by this, it may bother buyers in the market for an urban runabout.
The steering and suspension systems vary depending on whether the car is specified as an sDrive or xDrive model. The two-wheel drive sDrive cars use electric power steering and a double-joint tie bar axle arrangement for the front suspension. The xDrive variants feature a double-joint thrust bar front suspension with hydraulic assistance for the steering. All X1s have a multi-link rear suspension set-up.
Braking is via 312mm (front) and 300m (rear) ventilated discs, and the system seems entirely comfortable with bringing the X1 to a halt. Optional, as on the X6, is Performance Control, which brakes an inside wheel to cut understeer, a bit like an electronic limited-slip differential.