2015 BMW X1 review: Compact but useful

BMW was quick to spot a big opportunity for a small SUV, the original X1 beating its now varied competition to market by several years. Thing is, it wasn’t particularly good, but the strength of that BMW badge, allied to the compact dimensions and must-have SUV stance, was enough to ensure it was a huge success.
With the second-generation model featured here BMW realised it needed to be better packaged, look sharper, more efficient and be more enjoyable to drive. It delivered exactly that in 2015, introducing this X1, riding on a platform shared with BMW and Mini’s small car line-up to bring it greater space and cabin versatility, along with more engaging driving dynamics. It’s not that small, though – bear in mind that the X1 is now longer than a Nissan Qashqai. It looks good, mind, and the interior quality is worthy of that premium badge. It’s impressive enough to consider it over its larger X3 relation, though it’s priced according. It takes on rivals like the Audi Q3, Mercedes GLA, as well as the Peugeot 3008 and Nissan Qashqai brigade.

Did you know? With the second generation X1 BMW turned the engine transversely, which did wonders for interior space.

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BMW might have trail-blazed the small premium SUV segment thanks to being first to market with the original X1, but it no longer has the sector to itself. With this second-generation X1 BMW has done a far more convincing job, adding a proper upmarket feel to the interior, along with plenty of space – this really is a premium compact SUV that can fulfil the role of family car. It’s as good to drive as we’d expect from something wearing the BMW badge, too, while it’s efficiency and low emissions appeal to those buyers who are buying the X1 with company money and an eye on taxation. It’s not cheap to buy, but then neither are its direct rivals, so it feels like it’s worth it.
Technology & Connectivity
Performance & Handling
Spec & Trim Levels
Fuel Economy
We Like
Good to drive
Good cabin space and versatility
Very competitive economy
We Don’t Like
Not cheap to buy
Ride comfort compromised by run-flat tyres
Misses out on some safety kit

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Nobody could accuse the original X1 of being a looker, but regardless BMW clearly discovered a niche, as buyers couldn’t get enough of them. Unlike that car, which was a bit of an experimental lash-up, BMW spent more time and effort with the second-generation. Turning the engine around 90 degrees got rid of the ungainly long bonnet, so the X1 is now a neatly proportioned SUV, with a relatively snub nose and large passenger cabin, while the surface detailing and stance are more in keeping with the rest of the BMW X model family. There’s the usual large kidney grilles up front, framed by some assertively styled headlights containing four LED running lamps as standard on xLine or M Sport models – as the majority are specified. The trims look subtly different, with M Sport being a bit more overtly sporting in its style, removing the pseudo skid plates front and rear of all models below it in the range. Whatever trim you opt for it’s a handsome car, which looks and feels more like a natural rival for vehicles in the size segment above.

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All very familiar BMW inside, the X1 unsurprisingly shares a lot with the compact BMWs in its dash layout and operation. There’s an easily navigated screen atop the centre dash, which is operated by means of BMW’s iDrive controller on the transmission tunnel. Betraying its age is the lack of a touchscreen, but in truth the slickness of that iDrive system means you’re unlikely to miss it. In front of you are some conventional, clear instruments, while the steering wheel, depending on specification, can control virtually everything you realistically need while driving. There are separate ventilation controls underneath the dash, meaning no annoying screen-based sub-menus when you simply want to change the temperature.
Where the current X1 leapt ahead of its predecessor was in interior space. A wheelbase stretch helped liberate masses of interior space. The driver and passenger are accommodated in a spacious environment, while the rear seat is comfortable for a pair of adults; the third, middle seat, is more of an occasional pew than a proper seat. The seat backs folds in a 40/20/40 split and, so long as you’ve not optioned electric or sports seats, the front passenger chair folds forward to accommodate longer loads. It’s possible to option sliding rear seats if you want them, while the boot holds 505 litres, or 1,550 litres with those rear seat backs folded.

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Technology & Connectivity
The BMW X1 might have been around for a while now, but based on BMW’s latest architecture means it’s bang up to date with its connectivity, and all models are offered with the option of BMW ConnectedDrive, which allows you to add services that you require for music streaming, navigation, traffic info, news, social media, and more. It’s all integrated into the central screen, which, if you go for ‘navigation plus’, grows to 8.8 inches. There’s the option too of a head-up display, featuring a flip up screen rather than a projection onto the windscreen. You can also optionally have remote services, which allows you to control some functions of your car from your smartphone, locking, unlocking, locating, and send-to-car services for navigation, for example.
The standard stereo comes with DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB connection, although you have to pay for voice control, which seems a bit stingy these days. Real Time Traffic Information is standard, as is a satellite navigation system, but a lot of buyers will want to add the extended nav pack for the widescreen system and improved graphics with Google-linked mapping. BMW packages up many of its more advanced services into packs, like the Innovation Package, Technology Package or Navigation Plus Package in an attempt to keep things relatively simple. Option it and Park Assist will do exactly that, steering into a space for you, and there’s the choice of premium 12-speaker Harmon Kardon audio if you want to upgrade.

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Performance & Handling
Being a BMW the expectation is that it’ll be among the best of the cars in its class to drive. That expectation is, by and large, met, as the X1 steers with precision, while managing to mix taut handing with respectable ride comfort. That deteriorates in the M Sport models, which come with firmer suspension; the car rides best when it’s not trying too hard to be sporting. It rides more comfortably on conventional tyres, too, and run-flat items are optional across the range – unless you choose one of the 19-inch wheels, which can only be had with the run-flat tyres. Other suspension options includes Electronic Damper Control, which has three different settings, though in truth you’re best spending the money elsewhere as you’ll rarely, if ever, find any situation where you’ll want anything other than Comfort.
The engine line-up is entirely made up of four-cylinder petrol and diesel units, which, despite their badging suggesting otherwise, are all 2.0-litre in capacity. A 2.0-litre ‘TwinPower’ turbodiesel powers the 18d, 20d and 25d models in 150hp, 190hp and 231hp outputs respectively, while those wanting a petrol engine are offered the four-cylinder, TwinPower turbo 20i with 192hp. The 20d and 20i cars manage the 0-62mph dash in around 7.5 seconds, the 18d tailing at just shy of 10 seconds and the 25d proves its sprinting ability with an impressive 6.6-second time. All but the 18d come as standard with xDrive four-wheel drive; the entry-level car is front-wheel drive, though four-wheel drive is an option. Both the 25d and 20i come with an eight-speed automatic as standard, which shifts gears with real speed and slickness – it’s a worthwhile addition to the other models, too.
Recommended engine: xDrive20d
0-62 MPH
7.6 seconds
Fuel economy
58.9 mpg

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Six airbags, Dynamic Stability Control, Anti-lock Braking with Cornering Brake Control, and BMW Emergency Call all come as standard across the entire range, but it seems remiss that there’s no driver’s knee airbag – standard tech on a lot of cars these days.
That Emergency Call system can contact an emergency controller when required – without the need for a mobile phone paired up via Bluetooth. There’s the option of Adaptive LED headlights and a Driving Assistant that includes Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning, but again, the fact that urban AEB isn’t standard puts it behind some rivals. Optional Traffic Jam assistance provides steering control in traffic up to 24mph, as well. Euro NCAP has tested the X1 and it scored a five-star rating in 2015, with 90 percent adult occupant, 87 percent child occupant and 74 percent pedestrian protection scores, as well as a 77 percent score for safety assist equipment. Two ISOFIX child seat fixings are fitted in the outer rear seats and another in the front passenger seat. All models feature tyre pressure monitoring as standard, too.

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Spec & Trim Levels
Two non-metallic colours of Jet Black and Alpine White are offered as standard, the optional metallic paint finishes more extensive with ten colours on offer. Nothing too radical, mind, with lots of greys, near blacks and darker hues like Black Sapphire, Sparkling Brown and Atlantic or Mineral Grey, though M Sport models do get the exclusive additional metallic colour choice of Estoril Blue.
Trim Levels
SE introduces the range, and is a convincing starting package, with two-zone air conditioning, BMW navigation with a 6.5-inch screen, DAB radio, USB connectivity, sliding rear seats, an automatic tailgate, LED daytime running lights, park distance control, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Sport ups the alloy wheel size to 18 inches, adds some black high gloss exterior trim, as well as roof rails in ‘shadowline’ gloss and a chrome exhaust finisher. It’s much the same inside, with more high gloss finishing, sports seats, LED ambient lighting, and a sport steering wheel. Walk up to xLine specification and there’s satin aluminium trim outside as well as LED headlights, while the wheel size remains at 18 inches, but with a different design. The interior gains leather upholstery and front seat heating for a bit more luxury.
M Sport loses the leather of the xLine for Alcantara and cloth covered and heated sports seats, M Sport specific trim details in the door sills, aluminium interior trim, and an M Sport steering wheel. Outside, it gets a more overly sporting look, with deeper, body-coloured bumpers front and rear, bi-colour 18-inch alloy wheels, and M Sport suspension.
All X1s come with BMW’s Drive Performance Control switch, which allows you to choose drive modes from a choice of Eco Pro, Comfort or Sport, though most owners will leave it in Comfort and never touch it again.
Size and Dimensions
It’s big, but then you know that, as it’s one of the reasons you’ll buy it. Nearly five metres long, it’s worth investing in those parking sensors.
4,439 mm
1,821 mm
1,598 mm
Max towing weight without brake
1,800kg (braked)

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Fuel Economy
The X1 is relatively expensive to buy, but running it shouldn’t cost too much, BMW’s appeal to business buyers is demonstrated by its highly competitive fuel consumption and emissions figures. The best is the sDrive18d. Thanks to being front- rather than four-wheel drive, it has a combined economy figure of between 65.7mpg to 68.9mpg, depending on specification, and emissions of 109-114g/km. Those numbers rise marginally if you opt for the automatic, but they’re still impressive given the size and performance on tap. That’s true across the range, with even the highest performing engines delivering good consumption and emissions; the least efficient unit is the 20i when mated to an automatic transmission, and even then it only emits 149g/km.
Reliability and servicing
The previous-generation X1 wasn’t particularly notable for its reliability, though there have been no major issues with the present car as yet. A generous unlimited mileage, three-year warranty should give buyers some confidence, though. Variable servicing is offered, and BMW also has Service Packs covering three years and 36,000 miles.
Petrol models
Variable, annual – three years with BMW Service Inclusive
Diesel models
Variable, annual – three years with BMW Service Inclusive

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With prices starting at just under lb28,000 for an sDrive 18d SE, the X1 underlines its premium billing. Unlike its predecessor, it feels up to it, though we’d suggest the sweet spot in the range is around lb32,000 for an xDrive 20d Sport. The xLine model looks expensive for leather trim, while M Sport adds some glitz outside, but ruins the ride with its stiffer suspension.
Mind you, most people buy on monthly finance and on that score the BMW is very competitive, so be sure to get a quote before assuming that this might be too expensive. Company car drivers will also find the X1 very competitive thanks to it having some of the best emissions in the mid-sized SUV class.

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Company Car Buyer
Buy the sDrive 18d model for its sub-150g/km CO2, in any trim level and delete the badge for office carpark credibility.
Car Enthusiast
An M Sport xDrive25d is the fastest and sharpest looking, though it’s a bit firm riding.
Luxury Seeker
Any engine with the xLine trim brings some luxury, including leather seats and seat heating as standard.
Audi Q3
Smaller inside, not as fun to drive but a nicer environment to sit in.
Range Rover Evoque
Fun to drive, everywhere, though not quite as spacious or nice to live with every day as the BMW.
Mercedes-Benz GLA
More jacked up hatchback than proper compact SUV, making the BMW a more capable and rounded proposition.
Volkswagen Tiguan
Not quite a premium model, but fit and finish puts it up there, and it’s a nice, if unexciting drive.
Seat Ateca
Seat’s Ateca might not be a premium offering, but it does much the same as the X1, for a lot less money.


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