Parkers overall rating: 3.9 out of 5 3.9
  • Four engines on offer just now
  • Two petrols and two diesels; PHEV later
  • All-wheel drive and automatic transmission available

The BMW X1 is currently available with two petrols, two diesels and one plug-in hybrid (PHEV) power option, coupled with either front-wheel drive or xDrive four-wheel drive.

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There’s a choice of transmissions too, with either a six-speed manual, seven-speed dual-clutch or eight-speed automatic gearbox available, depending on the engine specified.

Popular petrol engines

Kicking off the range is the sDrive18i engine that, despite the badging, is actually a three-cylinder 1.5-litre shared with a number of BMW Group models including the MINI Hatch. Producing 140hp and 220Nm of torque, it’s good for 0-62mph in 9.7 seconds, with a top speed of 127mph (126mph with the dual-clutch seven-speed automatic transmission).

If you need a little more punch, but don’t want to switch to diesel, the sDrive20i and xDrive20i petrols could be what you’re after. Unlike the 18i, its badging does ring true, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine producing 192hp and 280Nm of torque. As a result, 0-62mph comes up in 7.4 seconds for the xDrive with its superior traction, 7.7 seconds for the sDrive. The dual-clutch automatic is standard-fit with both choices.

Efficient diesel options

The entry-level diesel engine is 2.0-litre, four-cylinder badged sDrive18d and xDrive18d. Good for 150hp and 350Nm of torque, 0-62mph is dispatched in 9.3 seconds (9.4 with the eight-speed automatic gearbox), while top speed comes in at 127mph for the sDrive, 126mph for the xDrive. This engine also has the benefit of being available with the full transmission and drivetrain selection, with xDrive all-wheel drive and eight-speed automatic versions available either together or separately.

If you’re after the top of the range diesel, the xDrive20d is as good as it gets in the X1. A 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit, power is 190hp while torque is 400Nm. This means 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds, with top speed arriving at 136mph. Note that this engine is only available with the eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Until June 2018, the BMW X1 was available with a 2.0-litre diesel engine badged xDrive25d. Producing 230hp and 450Nm of torque, it was noticeably more powerful than anything else in the line-up, managing 0-62mph in just 6.4 seconds, with a top speed of 146mph.

Plug-in hybrid tops the range

The PHEV version of the X1, badged xDrive25e, is powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine driving the front wheels and an electric motor propelling the rears. A claimed electric range of 31 miles is quoted, despite a combined power output of 220hp. That makes it the most powerful and (potentially) efficient version in the X1 range, although we've yet to drive it – so can't comment on its fuel and efficiency figures.

However, on paper, it makes a great case for itself. With a combined fuel consumption figure of 157mpg (while there's charge in the battery pack), and 0-62mph time of 6.9 seconds, there's clearly a lot going for this one. We'll report back once we've tested this model. Visually, the xDrive25e looks like any other X1 save for an additional flap on the left front wing for the charging socket.

Ride and handling

  • Focus on sportiness
  • Feels like a taller 1 Series
  • Reasonably capable off-road

While the X1 is a fully-fledged SUV, it’s still a BMW – so there’s a keen focus on sportiness and handling dynamics. As a result, the X1 drives just like a taller 1 Series to drive; there’s a smidge more bodyroll (where the body of the car leans when going through corners) and the centre of gravity feels a touch higher, but otherwise it’s really not far off BMW’s sweet-handling hatchback.

Models equipped with xDrive all-wheel drive (standard on higher-spec versions) enables immense traction coming out of corners – especially in greasy conditions – while steering feel is well-judged. It’s light enough at low speeds for easy parking, but weights-up encouragingly once you get going, enabling precise and direct handling. 

The X1 can hold its own off-road thanks to its 183mm ground clearance and short bodywork overhangs. This allows the car to fare well over the rough stuff, tackling mildly challenging hills and bumps easily. Every xDrive model gets hill-descent control as standard too, which controls the speed of the car when negotiating steep, slippery slopes. Sure, it’s still going to struggle if you really push the envelope, but rivals are certainly no better.