Car group tests

BMW X1 vs rivals

BMW wants to repeat the success of its X5 and X6 in the compact SUV class. But can the new X1 leave its Ford and VW rivals in the shade?

BMW X1 Vs Rivals

Not for the first time, BMW is heading into uncharted territory. Following the success of its X5 and X6 models, the German giant aims to break into the compact SUV market with its all-new X1.

X-badged BMWs now account for one in five of the firm’s sales. And, to broaden the latest car’s appeal, the brand is set to offer two and four-wheel-drive variants.

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

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Here, we test the entry-level rear-wheel-drive X1 20d sDrive SE. Power comes from the maker’s tried-and-tested 177bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine, and in this trim, the X1 weighs in at £24,205. That puts it in sight of prestige and mainstream rivals alike.

Pitched against it here is the stylish Ford Kuga. In two-wheel-drive 2.0-litre TDCi Zetec spec, the blue oval car matches the BMW on paper, although it undercuts it by nearly £4,000.

Lurking in the shadows is the VW Tiguan SE 4motion. Even in more costly all-wheel-drive trim, it’s cheaper than the BMW – and adding to its appeal is a versatile cabin. So it’s time to find out. Does X really mark the spot for the latest BMW?

Verdict

Does the latest BMW have the X factor that will earn it victory in this test? The newcomer has a desirable premium image, while the involving chassis and strong engine make it great to drive. Better still, its low emissions help keep running costs down. However, a successful compact SUV needs to deliver more than driving thrills, kerbside appeal and a cheap tax disc.

In this company, the BMW is expensive and its exterior styling a little ungainly. Inside, things don’t get any better. The driving position is barely higher than that in a standard estate, the quality isn’t up to the company’s usual high standards and the cabin isn’t very practical. As a result, it doesn’t take the spoils here.

VW’s Tiguan has plenty going for it, including a versatile interior, strong build quality and decent refinement. It also represents good value for money, especially in all-wheel-drive trim. However, in the final reckoning it can’t match the Kuga’s overall appeal. Striking looks, great driving dynamics and a practical cabin make this a fine family choice. The fact it’s the cheapest model here is an added bonus.

1st: Ford KUGA Stylish, versatile and great to drive, the Kuga is one of the best compact SUVs around, beating established and new competition in this test. Bearing in mind this entry-level model’s much lower price than the other contenders, its victory is more impressive.

2nd: VW Tiguan The beautifully built Tiguan will be a huge hit with families, thanks mainly to its versatile cabin. While it’s less eye-catching than rivals, the VW is well equipped, good to drive and comfortable. Strong residual values make it a fine choice for private buyers.

3rd: BMW X1 Keen drivers will love this car, while its low CO2 output and fuel consumption add to the appeal. However, the X1 doesn’t have the commanding driving position of an SUV, while the interior is cramped and the price too high.

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