The most apparent change with this new X1 is a proportional one. The jacked-up estate car looks of the original car have been replaced by a much more conventional crossover bodystyle, with a higher roofline, beltline and seating position.

The visual awkwardness has gone, too, and the X1 now looks more like a downsized X3 or X5 and, perhaps even more important, much more like a premium-brand alternative to a Nissan Qashqai, rather than a curious sort of 1 Series ‘allroad’.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
The X1 has bonnet creases which converge on the kidney grille in an ‘X-shape’, similar to the BMW X3, X4, X5 and X6

That the car looks slightly shorter of snout is down to the fundamental shift through which all compact BMWs will go over the next couple of years: from a longways engine and rear-wheel drive to a transverse engine and, for the most part, front-wheel drive. You wouldn’t say that the X1 looks any less like a true BMW as a result of the shorter bonnet, although it remains to be seen if we’ll be able to say the same of the next 1 Series.

The X1’s UKL platform brings with it a steel monocoque underbody that, BMW claims, is significantly stiffer than that of the previous car and also allows for a near-perfect 50/50 front/rear weight distribution. If true, such a weight balance would be unusual for a transversely engined car.

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Most of the car’s panels are steel, with aluminium used for the bonnet and in places throughout the suspension. MacPherson struts feature at the front and a multi-link axle at the rear, both combined with fixed ride-height coil springs. Adaptive dampers are offered as an option, as is BMW’s speed-dependent active-ratio Variable Sport Steering system.

The engine range consists of a range of twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines, including three different tunes of diesel engine - the 148bhp sDrive (front-wheel drive) and xDrive18d, the 187bhp xDrive20d and the 228bhp xDrive25d. Meanwhile those craving a petrol can opt for the 188bhp xDrive20i X1.

Higher-end variants of the X1 get an Aisin eight-speed automatic transmission as standard, and a choice of either front-wheel drive or part-time four-wheel drive, which is delivered via an electro-hydraulic clutch situated on the rear axle.

Our test car was a mid-range 187bhp 20d diesel auto with four driven wheels and adaptive dampers.

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