BMW X1: How economical?

  • Best over long distances
  • Traffic jams are bad news
  • ECO PRO and auto ’box help

Take a quick look at the Facts and Figures section on the Parkers site and you’ll see that our BMW X1 M Sport xDrive 20d test car’s average fuel consumption is rated at 52mpg and its CO2 emissions at 143g/km. That’s not bad for a 2.0-litre diesel that develops 181bhp and drives all four wheels of a car weighing more than 1.5 tonnes.

The question is, how close can we get to these figures in day-to-day driving? That’s bearing in mind, of course, the caveat that our X1 is fitted with optional larger 19-inch wheels, which will have a slight negative impact on fuel consumption.

Over a recent, largely motorway-based journey of around 94 miles it returned 50.4mpg according to the iDrive’s trip computer.

On the way back I had to take a slightly different route and spent a fair bit of time battling through lengthy tailbacks. Stop-start traffic is never helpful for fuel economy and the results can be seen below:

BMW X1 trip computer

Average consumption of 40.9mpg - a drop of nearly 10mpg - shows what a difference heavy traffic can make.

I was making an effort to drive economically, too, accelerating and braking gently and switching on the X1’s oddly-named ‘ECO PRO’ mode – BMW’s term for a fuel-saving mode which dulls the throttle response, adjusts the air-conditioning settings and recalibrates the gearbox settings for optimum fuel efficiency.

A ‘Bonus Range’ readout on the instrument panel shows you how many extra miles the ECO PRO system may have helped you eke out. Another handy addition to the instrument panel is a real-time fuel consumption gauge – many cars have a similar feature as a digital readout but having an analogue dial is a better visual clue as to how economically or otherwise you’re driving.

BMW X1

The eight-speed automatic gearbox fitted to our test car helps to save fuel too. In fact, the eight-speed auto-equipped X1 is actually slightly more economical than the regular six-speed manual version according to the Parkers facts and figures section.

Top gear is very tall, so the engine doesn’t use many revs on the motorway and therefore saves fuel. That makes it quite quiet, too; engine noise really is commendably hushed at high speeds.

Another part of the X1’s fuel-saving arsenal is an automatic stop/start function, which cuts the engine if you’re stationary for more than a few seconds – taking your foot of the brake sees it cough back into life immediately. I tend to switch the stop/start function off for the first mile or two on the way to work as it seems wrong to let the engine keep stopping and restarting before it’s fully warmed up, but no doubt BMW’s engineers have thought about this and it’s probably not doing as much harm as I imagine.

Naturally, this isn’t the most efficient X1 in the range – if you go for the two-wheel drive X1 sDrive 20d EfficientDynamics, it’ll average a claimed 62.8mpg and emit 119g/km of CO2.

Most recently the X1 has been used for a very short daily commute, which has really killed the fuel consumption figures – the trip computer is showing less than 39mpg and it’s had an impact on the calculated fuel figure at the foot of the page too. It underlines the fact that diesel cars do their best work over a long run, so I’ll make sure the X1 gets some proper exercise over the next few weeks.

Total mileage: 5,754 miles

Average fuel economy: 36.7mpg