As juvenile as this may seem, job one for any new BMW worth its salt – even a diesel crossover – is to outstrip its competition on outright accelerative pace. Buyers expect nothing less.

But while the X1 performs well, it falls marginally short of that mark.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The X1’s gearlever is shared with the Mini, but you can't help missing the one-touch wands the other X cars get

Our performance data archive has a like-for-like Audi Q3 at a narrow, solitary 0.1sec disadvantage to the X1 from standstill to 60mph, and a similar one both through the gears and locked in fourth gear from 30mph to 70mph.

But the GLA220 CDI 4Matic that we performance tested last year matched the X1’s 0-60mph sprint of 8.2sec and was slightly faster than the BMW to 100mph and in other respects.

If the X1 had gone as fast as BMW claims (7.6sec to 62mph), the familiar selling point would be beyond doubt, but it couldn’t be made to do so. Missing that mark by more than half a second, in a run-in car and in dry conditions, merits a black mark.

However, the X1 certainly feels swift, muscular and relatively free-revving from the driver’s seat. The eight-speed gearbox chooses its ratios well, shifts smartly and locks up without slipping at low revs, allowing the engine’s low-end torque to shrug off the car’s mass when climbing gradients, even in higher gears.

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At the other end of the rev range, the 2.0-litre diesel keeps spinning long after rivals have thrown in the towel, revving to well beyond 5000rpm without undue complaint. Given that most similarly sized crossovers take a couple of seconds longer to hit 60mph from rest and aren’t nearly as flexible or free-revving, driving performance could probably still be a selling point for the X1.

It’s a pity that refinement doesn’t do more for the car. A mix of road roar and the usual undertone of coarseness that you tend to get from BMW four-cylinder diesels sent our decibel meter soaring to relatively high levels. The X1 was four decibels louder at a 70mph cruise than the Qashqai we tested last year. That kind of difference is more than big enough to be noticed.

Braking performance for the car is competitive but not outstanding, although the pedal feels carefully tuned and is easy to modulate accurately.

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