Crossover buyers are a demanding bunch, because they can afford to be. The best examples of the crossover breed don’t feel like big cars but instead cover their extra bulk and higher roll axis with the body control, agility and balanced ride of a normal family hatchback.
As a result, their drivers don’t even have to recognise any inherent compromise, on ride or handling, for choosing a bigger, heavier car, much less accept one. Those buyers will, by and large, find the X1 capable of the same trick. Flat-handling, grippy, directionally responsive and fairly comfortable, the BMW feels almost as dynamically sophisticated as any of its rivals.
You wouldn’t call it the class’s best-handling act, though – not quite – and neither would you say that it does anything special. On both counts, that probably makes it a lukewarm success by BMW’s high standards.
Even without BMW’s lowered and stiffened M Sport suspension set-up and with its Dynamic Damper Control, the X1 feels quite firmly sprung: a little over-damped, fidgety, and sensitive to coarse surfaces in all but Comfort mode on the Driving Experience Control switch. For a BMW, perhaps that’s as it should be, particularly given that upright, alert handling is the trade-off.