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BMW X1 - front view, silver

What is the BMW X1?

The X1 is BMW’s smallest SUV – equivalent to the 1 Series hatchback and sitting in the BMW off-roader range below the X3 and X5. The X2 meanwhile, is a sort-of-coupe variant of the X1.

As with all BMWs, the X1 majors on delivering a satisfying driving experience, separating it from an otherwise competitive set of rivals that include the Audi Q3, Jaguar E-Pace and Volvo XC40.

Now in its second generation, launched in 2016 (BMW codename F48), the X1 has all the upmarket build quality you’d expect, but is a little tight on standard equipment.

At a glance 2019 BMW X1 specs

  • Top speed: 127-140
  • 0-62mph: 7.6-9.7 seconds
  • Fuel economy: 47.1-61.4mpg
  • Emissions: 120-152g/km CO2
  • Boot space: 505-1,550 litres

Which versions of the BMW X1 are available?

The X1 only comes as a five-door SUV – though if you do want something a little more sporty looking there is always the fundamentally similar X2.

Trim choices ranges from vaguely anonymous in entry-level SE guise to overtly sporty in top-of-the-tree M Sport.

BMW X1 - white, rear view

Want to look like you might actually take your X1 off-road? Then go for the xLine, which has some chunky silver-trimmed elements masquerading as additional bodywork protection.

There’s a broad range of petrol and diesel engines, all of which are turbocharged and most of which are available as sDrive models with front-wheel drive only or xDrive models with four-wheel drive – though the entry-level petrol is sDrive only-and the top-spec diesel is solely an xDrive.

You get a six-speed manual gearbox as standard on the least powerful models, but most are fitted with a responsive automatic.

BMW X1 styling and engineering

To look at, the X1 is every bit the junior BMW SUV, with a clear lineage from the X5 in particular but a family resemblance to the X3 as well.

Exact appearance varies with trim level, but this is a tough and substantial-looking vehicle, with a squat stance and typically bold visual identity.

BMW X1 - interior, dashboard, steering wheel

The BMW X1’s interior quality is very good indeed, and although the large number of buttons seems a little old-fashioned these days it does make everything easy to use.

The X1’s underlying platform is called the BMW UKL2, and is shared with the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer, the BMW X2 and the MINI Countryman.

Is the BMW X1 good to drive?

Verging on the outstanding, for a small SUV. Sharp steering, a keen sense of balance and some excellent engines ensure you won’t have to try hard to have fun in one of these.

The standard suspension is on the firm side, as it works to keep the upright body in check during harder cornering. Optional adaptive damping is available to improve this.

BMW X1 - front view, white, driving

Unusually for BMW, there is no dedicated performance version. But xDrive variants in particular still feel very dynamic on the road; even with the four-wheel drive system this isn’t really a vehicle for serious off-roading.

How much does the BMW X1 cost?

The X1 doesn't look hugely expensive compared with rivals, but do consider the standard equipment list, which isn’t as generous as some – particularly in the area of active safety technology.

Deals aren’t unheard of, and it’s always worth haggling, especially if you’re planning to buy one on finance.

Read our comprehensive BMW X1 owner’s reviews to find out what other buyers make of them.

BMW X1 Model History

First-generation BMW X1 (2009-2015)

First-generation BMW X1 Mk1 - orange, front view

The original X1 (BMW codename E48) launched in 2009, becoming BMW’s fourth SUV model line. Despite its status as the smallest in the range, it impressed with its spaciousness and its economical yet powerful diesel engines.

The handling was also a strong point, although it came at the cost of a particularly firm ride, making it less comfortable and relaxing to drive than many competitors. Both rear-wheel drive (sDrive) and four-wheel drive (xDrive) models were available.

The overall interior design was attractive, in a typical BMW fashion, but the plastic quality felt a little cheap in places, as if the firm had decided to cut corners in order to increase profitability.

The slightly awkward exterior proportions were explained by the Mk1 X1 sharing its platform with the contemporary BMW 3 Series Touring, with the SUV being only marginally shorter.

Read what drivers think with our comprehensive BMW X1 owners’ reviews and browse through hundreds of examples for sale.