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 The jacked-up estate car looks of the original car have been replaced by a much more conventional crossover bodystyle, with a higher roofline, beltline and seating position.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’.
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.
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.