This is the revised version of BMW’s smallest SUV, the X1, and its task is tougher than ever. It must compete not only with traditional estates and MPVs, but also world-class rivals in the compact crossover class in the shape of the Audi Q3 and Range Rover Evoque.
Visually, the new X1 features redesigned headlights, bumpers and mirrors, along with new paint colours and alloy wheel designs. It’s a minor facelift, but a pair of new trim levels have also been added to the range.
Sitting between the existing SE and M Sport versions, BMW has introduced the Sport and xLine models, each with its own colour scheme and equipment list. The xLine works well thanks to 18-inch wheels and matt silver accents outside, complemented by X-embossed leather seats and a copper theme for the interior.
All versions of the new X1 benefit from interior upgrades, with better-quality materials and a restyled centre console. It’s not as impressive inside as the latest 3 Series, but it’s an improvement – and there’s plenty of room for five adult passengers.
From behind the new sports steering wheel, there’s no major change to how the X1 drives, as the chassis is untouched. However, more of the engines can now be specified with four-wheel drive and BMW has also introduced its excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox to this model.
It’s the perfect partner for the new 25d engine, which is a development of the twin-turbo 23d. The 2.0-litre diesel now produces 215bhp and 450Nm of torque. Straight-line pace is good, with 0-62mph taking only 6.8 seconds, yet this engine’s biggest strength is its mid-range thrust – and it doesn’t run out of puff in the upper reaches of the rev range, either.
In order to improve economy, the automatic gearbox works in conjunction with a stop-start system and has been calibrated to select as high a gear as possible. Even in Sport mode, it sensibly makes the most of the engine’s mid-range output. Tactile gearchange paddles allow the driver to override this if required, but few will feel the need to do this.
The X1 is best described as competent on the road. There’s lots of grip and you won’t come anywhere near the limit on a dry road. It impresses when driven quickly, with little in the way of body roll in the corners. It’s also noticeably stable and composed under hard braking.
It’s not as engaging as most rear-wheel-drive BMWs, though, and jiggles about on its springs at low speeds or over rough surfaces. This detracts from passenger comfort. However, the X1’s raised driving position remains, which sets it apart from the likes of the 3 Series Touring.
The all-diesel engine line-up comprises the 18d, 20d and 25d (with 141bhp, 181bhp and 215bhp respectively) as well as an sDrive20d EfficientDynamics model. The latter is available with rear-wheel drive only makes 161bhp. It emits 119g/km of CO2, so should get the attention of company car buyers.