From £23,880
Proof the BMW X1 junior off-roader is going to be worth waiting for

Our Verdict


The BMW X1 is fine to drive, but buyers looking for premium feel may be better served by rivals' offerings

  • First Drive

    BMW X1 xDrive25d x Line

    BMW’s new trim strategy means that there will be three ‘x’s in the name of your X1 xDrive25d x Line
  • First Drive

    BMW X1 xDrive 28i

    New engine is great in everyday driving, but it lacks the polish and fun factor of a BMW six-pot
30 May 2009
BMW X1 xDrive23d prototype

What is it?

BMW’s new junior off-roader – the X1. UK sales are slated to get underway around October, with local BMW officials hinting at a starting price of £25,000 for the entry-level xDrive18i and rising to around £35,000 for the range topping xDrive28i.

BMW is going for a broad reach with the X1, which will come with the option of three petrol and three diesel engines from the outset. The petrols include two 2.0-litre units with 141bhp and 168bhp, and a 254bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder unit. On the diesel side there is a trio of 2.0-litre common rail fours producing 141bhp, 175bhp and 201bhp. We’re testing a prototype of the 201bhp xDrive23d here.

We finally get behind the wheel of the second generation BMW X1, read our thoughts here

A six-speed manual gearbox is standard on all but the xDrive30i and xDrive23d, both of which receive a six-speed automatic with remote shift buttons on the steering wheel.

Drive is sent permanently to all four wheels via BMW’s xDrive system, which employs a multi-plate clutch to apportion the engine’s reserves to the wheels in a nominal 30:70 split front-to-rear, but which can vary 100:0 or 0:100 depending on conditions.

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The X1 sits on a lightly modified platform from the four-wheel drive 3-series – a model not offered in the UK, but which has proven popular in other European countries in recent years.

What’s it like?

The first thing that grabs your attention is the gutsy engine. The 2.0-litre diesel unit is relatively small in outright capacity. However, the combination of twin turbocharging and the latest in common rail technology helps provide it with the sort of shove to shame many larger engines. With 258lb ft of torque at 2000rpm, it hauls BMW’s new junior off-roader along with ease. At 75mph it barely raises a sweat, ticking over at 2500rpm in top gear.

BMW puts the xDrive23d’s 0-62mph acceleration at 7.3sec, yet in real world driving it feels even quicker. It’s also frugal, averaging almost 45mpg. It is all helped by the slick shifting nature of the standard six-speed automatic gearbox, which adds to the feeling of refinement.

With relatively compact dimensions, the X1 is perfectly suited to urban driving. Despite its long bonnet, the raised seating position provides a good view of the road out front. However, a shallow and heavily angled rear window and high mounted tailgate combine to make it difficult to judge during reversing.

In on-road situations it is highly satisfying to drive, feeling more like a traditional estate than a high riding off-roader, turning in with enthusiasm and cornering in a highly progressive fashion. With relatively wide tracks helping to distribute the weight, there is also little body roll and, thanks to four-wheel drive a good deal of grip, too.

The steering is reasonably weighty in the best of BMW traditions, although at 3.2 turns from lock to lock it not at all quick. But this is no sportscar, it’s an off-roader. It is the overall smoothness of the ride which impresses the most.

After traversing muddy fields and rocky trails we’re confident the X1 offers a good deal more capability than most owners will seek.

For anyone with passing familiarity with recent BMWs, the X1’s cabin will be immediately recognisable. Although the dashboard and door trims of the pre-production cars we drove were partly disguised, it is clear the materials and overall quality of the production version will be similar to the existing 3-series.

BMW describes the X1 as a five seater. While three adults can find room up back, entry is tight through small door apertures and there is a lack of shoulder room once you’re seated. The rear seat is also mounted rather low and its cushion is flat.

BMW puts the X1’s nominal boot capacity at 420 litres – some 60 litres less than in the X3, although with the reclining back rest of the rear seat pushed all the way forward it extends to 480 litres.

Should I buy one?

From what could be gleaned during our time with final prototype versions, the BMW X1 clearly sets out to be the driver’s choice in an ever increasing group of compact off-roaders.

In simple terms, it takes all the likeable qualities of the 3-series and wraps them up in a higher-riding estate style body, also allowing you to head off-road when the need arises.

Join the debate


27 May 2009

For the money, I'd rather have a top of the range Qashqai (£23,800 before discounts). At £25,000 for the base model you'd have to seriously want to have a BMW badge on your bonnet to pass up the Nissan.

27 May 2009

So Jaguar dress their XJ up to look like a BMW in disguise and BMW return the compliment by stealing Jaguar's design for car camouflage?

Lets face it, if this looks like the recent undisguised pictures we've seen on the forum it may as well keep the camo on. The Audi Q3 will look so much better than this - another victory for Audi before either car is even launched.

27 May 2009

So, it looks like an X3, costs a similar amount to an X3, has pretty much the same engine range as an X3, and sits on a modified 3 series chassis. Are you sure it's not another X3? Do BMW's customers need yet another 4x4? What's next, 1 series GT, 3 series GT, X4, X2? I do pity BM dealers. They must find it more difficult to decide what to stock than Tesco. Oh sorry, I forgot, they only stock second hand stuff in their showrooms. Good job Tesco don't.

27 May 2009

Hope that this will be the prettiest of the X series and be well recieved- would be nice to see a pretty BMW with a compliant ride :o)

27 May 2009

[quote Autocar]

and rising to around £35,000 for the range topping xDrive28i.


A little confused about the write-up. First it is quoted that the range topping vehicle is an xDrive28i, then a few lines down you say "A six-speed manual gearbox is standard on all but the xDrive30i". So which one is the range topper? xDrive28i or xDrive30i?

Also, it is quoted here that the torque output of the twin-turbo diesel is 258lb/ft at 2000rpm, but in all other BMW's available with this engine, the torque output is 295lb/ft. If this is typo, then more care is needed when passing information to your readers. If it's not a typo, then why on earth will BMW reduce the torque figure of this heavier 4x4 car compared to the 1-series?

27 May 2009

[quote noluddite]I do pity BM dealers. They must find it more difficult to decide what to stock than Tesco[/quote]

Yes it must be difficult.

They have the best driving hatch: 1 - Series

The best driving compact saloon and estate: 3 - Series

The best driving exec sallon and estate: 5 - Series

The best Driving 4x4's X5 and X6

And top runners for large exec 7 series and 6 series.

Oh and they have ensured that their new roadaster appeals to the wider audience by including the now obligatory solid state roof. (but not to me).

Please get yourself some BMW keys, be quiet, turn the ignition (oops sorry insert in the slot) and go and have some fun.

You obviously do not enjoy driving.

27 May 2009

[quote Orangewheels]

So Jaguar dress their XJ up to look like a BMW in disguise and BMW return the compliment by stealing Jaguar's design for car camouflage?

Lets face it, if this looks like the recent undisguised pictures we've seen on the forum it may as well keep the camo on. The Audi Q3 will look so much better than this - another victory for Audi before either car is even launched.


Just realised why you are so pro Audi, Jag, Honda and LR.


Why did it take Audi so long to develop their efficient dynamics?

27 May 2009

I can see the problems that might be present for a dealer. With ever increasing niches we might see a return to the early days of the car with separate coach builders putting bodies on chassis. However I must disagree with the assessment of the range. 1 series: squashed bread van looks, mediocre quality and dreadfully packaged interior. Sure it drives well but nobody else can come along for the ride! 3 series: Excellent but why anybody would buy a new one is beyond me, more ubiquitous that Windows XP, seen some amazing bargains on one year old 320d se models. 5 series: okay, drives well but a Jaguar XF is a more convincing package now needs an update, and don't get me started on the GT with its ever expanding kidney grill. Looks like a basking whale scouting for plankton. X5/X6: Oh dear, best driving? No, a Range Rover is far superior unless you enjoy driving a brash wannabe. One for division two footballers and bookmakers. 6/7 series: Buy an S class if you want the best. Original and supremely comfortable. Less said about the six series the better. If you want a GT get a Porsche Cayman. Now that drives properly.

27 May 2009

Hee hee you're funny.

Of course I have always maintained that a Range Rover drives better then an X5 / X6 (WTF?). And of course no footballers buy them do they?

A Porsche Cayman is not a GT.

You missed the point.

Oh and by the way, do you buy books based on the cover? Ooh look a nice blue one with a pretty picture on the front I think I'll buy it. You seem to be attacking the marque based on looks.

The words were DRIVING. not overall package etc. The dealers have a good strong line-up just like Ford have presently and Fiat. Remember the 5 series is only now being eclipsed by the XF. Sorry but how old is the 5 Series now? Hmmm an update is on the way and I know for a fact that insiders at Jag are concerned.

Most 320d's are company cars - with good reason. Cheap to run on the car schemes.

27 May 2009

If you wait and ponder about you'll realise that this, and not the X6 or 5GT, is the ugliest, dullest and most pointless thing BMW will make.


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