- Improved looks
- Great to drive
- Efficient engines
- More practical than ever
- Lots of safety kit
- Brand cache
- Price has increased
- Yet to try standard suspension
- Servicing and maintenance could be expensive
When we initially published our review of the original BMW X1 SUV review, we weren't exactly blown away by its good looks. Even the firm’s insiders called the first generation the ‘ugly duckling’ of its line-up. But in its defence, with a face only its mother could love, nearly 40,000 of them found homes in the UK since its launch in 2009.
What you’re looking at here is far easier on the eye. The small SUV has been completely redesigned to mirror the other cars in the ‘X’ line-up – specifically to tally with the lines of the X3 and X5 – and also to address criticism festooned on the design from demanding customers.
With that in mind it’s a car based on the same platform as the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and its Gran Tourer sibling, and it aims to rival the Audi Q3 along with the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class. There’s also competition from the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque (which is more expensive to buy and run) and the Volkswagen Tiguan, but that’s getting its own refresh very soon following the unveiling of the next version at 2015’s Frankfurt Motor Show.
More cabin room
The new X1 is slightly shorter but also 25mm wider, 53mm higher and ground clearance has been raised by 43mm, meaning the driving position is another 40mm higher than before. There’s also plenty more space in the cabin, with up to 66mm more legroom for rear passengers (when the sliding rear seat’s specified), and a flexible boot which measures 505 litres and can be adapted through a multitude of configurations depending on your individual requirements. This is covered in far more detail in the practicality section of the review.
It’s a safer car too, with plenty of technology built in which means it’s between three and six insurance groups lower than the previous model. We’ve out-lined this in the safety section.
Cheaper to run
And while we’re on the subject of running costs, there’s a quartet of efficient engines (one petrol and three diesels) with claimed fuel economies of between 44.8mpg and 68.7mpg. With CO2 emissions low too, this is a car that could appeal to company car drivers, but those after a bit of poke won’t be left wanting either. The X1 drives like a BMW, and is capable of a sprint from 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds if you’ve picked the right engine. It’ll even tackle off-road driving if xDrive all-wheel drive is fitted, as you’ll read in the performance and handling chapters.
In a bit of a break from tradition, BMW doesn’t expect you to spend your life savings splattering your car with optional extras. Sure, there’s the usual list available, but the firm is expecting around half the spend of the previous model because it’s been clever with the four trim levels, cramming them with desirable features instead.
UK drive coming soon
So it’s improvements all-round for the small SUV from BMW. A good job too, because this sector of the car market has exploded in recent years and doesn’t show signs of calming down any time soon. The early indications are good, so we’ll look forward to driving the car in the UK to find out if it’s as good as we found it on the launch event in Spain.
Read on for our comprehensive evaluation of the BMW X1 SUV.