Road tests

BMW X1 Exclusive Drive

German giant’s smallest off-roader yet throws down gauntlet to Mini and Audi

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

Without being particularly revolutionary, the X1 is likely to prove an extremely popular model for BMW.  On the basis of this early look at the car, it should attract those who would enjoy many of the attributes of the firm’s 3-Series repackaged in a raised estate car body – with some real off-road ability thrown in for good measure.  It’s likely to appeal to buyers who also rate a sporty driving experience, too. The biggest issue for the firm might be that the X1 makes the X3 seem, well, redundant.

It's BMW’s baby off-roader – and Auto Express has been given exclusive access. The all-new X1 is on sale from October, and goes into battle against the forthcoming MINI Crossman and Audi’s Q3.

Essentially a smaller X3, it’s designed for drivers who like the convenience of a compact estate and the flexibility of an off-roader. Prices should start at around £25,000 – so it’s not exactly cheap. But does it offer enough to tempt buyers? 

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the BMW X1

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First impressions are that the X1 is handsome, if not particularly striking. While the headlights and tail-lamps are neat, and the bumper cladding adds some toughness, it looks like a modified, shrunken X3. 

Inside, the cabin follows the same design themes as other BMWs, with excellent materials and quality. Three adults can just about squeeze in the back. 

Under the skin, the X1 uses BMW’s xDrive four-wheel drive. Power is split 30:70 in favour of the rear wheels, but the set-up can send all the torque to either end in slippery conditions. 

Engine options comprise 2.0-litre petrol units with 141bhp and 168bhp, plus a 254bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder. 

Diesel buyers can choose from 141bhp, 175bhp and 201bhp 2.0-litre powerplants. Our top-spec 23d diesel promises a blend of punch and efficiency – it sprints from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds, but gives 45mpg. 

From behind the wheel, the X1 offers a car-like experience, thanks to its relatively compact dimensions – it’s 10cm shorter than an X3 – and raised stance. It’s sporty on the road, while the capable 4WD system will ensure the model copes with anything owners throw at it. 

In fact, as the newcomer offers better economy, lower running costs and a compact, town-friendly size, it should prove more popular than the X3. We’ll find out more in

an in-depth first test within the next couple of weeks.

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