When the BMW X1 appeared in 2009, the stakes were high. We’d come to expect great things from BMW’s SUV models, after the brilliance of the company’s X5 and X3; a great driving experience, excellent cabin and array of brilliantly efficient engines.
The fact that the X1 is more of a crossover than a ‘proper’ SUV made BMW’s job easier, so the car’s spot-on handling was no surprise – although the ride left something to be desired. Also, cabin space and some of the materials used in early examples aren’t perfect. However, as classy crossovers go, this is still a compelling used buy.
The X1 arrived in December 2009, with a four-cylinder 2.0-litre diesel in 18d (143bhp), 20d (177bhp) and 23d (204bhp) forms. The first two had rear (sDrive) or four-wheel drive (xDrive); the 23d was 4WD only. All early cars were SE spec; M Sport arrived in January 2011.
The 163bhp xDrive20d EfficientDynamics from September 2011 was rated at 119g/km, then in June 2012 a facelifted X1 brought revised interior and exterior styling, two new trim levels (Sport and xLine), cleaner-running engines and an eight-speed auto option. Also, the 218bhp xDrive25d replaced the xDrive23d and the 20d was boosted to 184bhp.
The Audi Q3 is the closest rival. It’s as efficient, solid and comfortable as you’d expect of the brand, but used ones are scarce. The Range Rover Evoque is more stylish and desirable; it’s also very new yet much more plentiful than the X1 or Q3. Used values are high.
The VW Tiguan has some great engines and is very capable, yet uninspiring – or you could try the Ford Kuga. The badge isn’t as prestigious, but the design, dynamics and equipment will impress; you’ll get a lot more for your money than with the X1.