The BMW X1 is a compact SUV with quality, style and low running costs

Strengths & Weaknesses


Engaging to drive
Low fuel costs


Expensive to buy
Thirsty petrol engine
Long and confusing list of options

The BMW X1 is a mini version of the company’s larger SUVs - and looks like it too, so it doesn’t feel like a budget choice.
Originally, SUVs (sport utility vehicles) were designed for off-road use, but the X1 is more of a crossover: it takes the mechanical parts from Mini, which is owned by BMW, and blends them with the higher driving position and increased practicality of an off-roader.

This combination gives drivers a good view of the road, but also makes the X1 feel more like a nimble hatchback to drive. Instead of being heavy and lumbering in corners, it’s agile and doesn’t lean very much - certainly less than the rival Mercedes GLA.

The ride is comfortable and smooth too, which is an improvement over the similarly-sized Audi Q3. Because the X1 is designed for owners who spend most - if not all - of their time driving on the road, not all models have four-wheel drive, which BMW calls xDrive. This provides extra control in slippery conditions, and while cornering.

Inside, you can fit three passengers in the back without too much discomfort, thanks to the ample leg and headroom. Storage space is generous all round (BMW claims the door pockets will hold a one-litre bottle).

The boot is a good size – there’s more room here than in the Mazda CX-5 or Audi Q3. Dropping the back seats increases it substantially. If you need the seats, you can specify a sliding rear seat that allows you to choose between some useful extra boot space or additional rear legroom.

It’s in the interior quality that you see the difference between the X1 and cheaper rivals such as the Kia Sportage, Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar crossovers.

Whether the seats are finished in cloth or leather, it feels well-built and generously equipped. Standard equipment includes dual-zone climate control that allows each front passenger to choose the temperature for their side of the car, 6in screen with sat-nav and parking sensors.

It’s a match for the luxurious Mercedes GLA, and a step up from the Audi Q3. The price for this is high, though. Even if you can find a BMW X1 offer that reduces the official price, which starts at around £27,500, it’s costs more than most other small crossovers, and considerably more than a family hatchback such as the VW Golf, Audi A3 or Skoda Octavia, which also offer reasonable interior space and quality.

Apart from insurance, at least many running costs are low, thanks to a choice of efficient diesel engines that minimise fuel and road tax bills. Stick with smooth automatic versions and it will feel like the premium car that it’s priced to be.

The BMW X1 is a safe choice, with a five star rating from Euro NCap, which independently crash-tested the car.

Last Updated 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - 09:45

Key facts 

3 years
Boot size: 
505 litres
Tax (min to max): 
£20 to £145

Best BMW X1 for... 

BMW X1 sDrive 18d Sport auto
The manual version can do 68.9mpg but this eight-speed auto still manages an impressive 65.7mpg and is smoother to drive.
BMW X1 xDrive20d Sport auto
Families should like this version’s blend of strong performance, the security of four-wheel drive and good economy (57.6mpg in auto form). Sport trim is a decent compromise between luxury and price.
BMW X1 xDrive25d M Sport
With its 0-62mph time of 6.6 seconds - matching many sporty hot hatchbacks - firm sports suspension and sports seats, this is the X1 for drivers in a hurry.
BMW X1 xDrive20i M Sport
Being a petrol, the 2.0i is the least efficient engine in the range. The fact that it’s only available with four-wheel drive doesn’t help its cause, either. M Sport trim just adds to the cost.

BMW X1 History 

  • 2015 The current BMW X1 is launched.

Understanding BMW X1 car names 

  • X1
  • Driven wheels
  • Engine
  • Trim level
    M Sport
  • Driven wheels
    Versions badged xDrive are four-wheel drive. sDrive cars are only two-wheel drive, with power from the engine only powering the front wheels.
  • Engine
    BMW’s engine badging can be confusing. The engines are badged 18, 20 and 25. In general, the larger the number, the more powerful the engine. The letter d indicates a diesel engine, while an i is used on petrol models.
  • Trim level
    The amount of equipment that’s included as standard depends on the trim level, which starts at SE, then goes through Sport and xLine to the top-of-the-range M Sport.

BMW X1 Engines 

18d, 20d, 20i, 25d

There’s only one petrol engine in the X1 range. It’s called the 20i and frankly, it hasn’t much going for it. It’s the least economical and not quite so powerful as the other engines.

The diesels provide better overtaking performance and are quiet when travelling at a steady speed.

The engine in the 18d is the least powerful diesel in the X1 range but it still accelerates from 0-62mph in less than 10 seconds. It’s also the only engine available with the option of two-wheel drive, which makes the car more fuel efficient.

The 20d is the best balanced engine in the line-up: economical but powerful, too. Its performance is not blunted by the addition of four-wheel drive (it can do 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds), which only strengthens its case still further.

The 25d is fun to drive because it’s powerful and fast. It’s reasonably economical, too, but you have to wonder whether it’s not just a bit over-the-top for a compact vehicle such as the X1. In most circumstances, the 20d will be all you need.




0 - 60

top speed



60.1 - 68.89mpg


9.2 - 9.3s








20i (auto)






25d (auto)






BMW X1 Trims 

SE, Sport, xLine, M Sport

The trim levels dictate the level of standard equipment on your X1. BMW also allows you to add most items of equipment as options that you pay for individually, but this can become extremely expensive if you start ticking a lot of options boxes.

The basic trim is called SE and is only available with the 18d engine. Alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, a sat nav, DAB digital radio and rear parking sensors are all standard.

For around £1,500 more, Sport trim makes the interior feel more luxurious. Sports seats are included, along with glossier panels in the dashboard. The size of the alloy wheels goes up from 17in to 18in. It’s available with all engines bar the 25d.

For £3,000 more than the SE, xLine trim includes heated leather seats, bright LED headlights and silver highlights around the windows. It’s available with the full engine line-up.

M Sport trim is also £3,000 more than the SE and is offered on all engines too. It adds sports suspension and the heated sports seats are a mixture of cloth and alcantara but the rest is visual: namely chunkier bumpers.

Upgrading your X1 beyond this level can be expensive. Metallic paint, for example, is a £550 option. You also have to pay extra for items such as a rear-view camera and panoramic sunroof, which are standard on top-of-the-range models from cheaper rivals.

BMW X1 Reliability and warranty 

As it’s still a fairly recent model, the best information that we have to go on is that the X1 shares mechanical parts with the Mini, as well as the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer people carrier, which are both highly-rated by owners.

The X1 has a three-year unlimited mileage warranty. Most rivals are restricted to 60,000 miles.

Used BMW X1 

SUVs such as the X1 are increasingly popular and the little BMW is one of the best, which means that demand will be high, keeping prices expensive.

Your best hope for a bargain is the 20i petrol model. You’ll have to put up with high running costs, those are the reason that the car is expected to lose value more quickly than the rest of the range.

List price

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Best for performance







BMW X1 xDrive25d M Sport






Best for families







BMW X1 xDrive20d Sport auto






Best for economy







BMW X1 sDrive 18d Sport auto