BMW X1 (2015 – 2022) Review

BMW X1 (2015 – 2022) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The BMW X1 is an excellent small premium SUV if you're looking to buy used, with a good range of all-round talents. It's several years old now, though, and rivals have surpassed it as a new buy.

+Practical, spacious and good to drive. Most engines offer strong performance and low running costs. Primarily front wheel drive. Well-equipped as standard.

-Getting on a bit now if you're buying new. Not the most refined small premium SUV. Cabin starting to lag behind competition.

Insurance Groups are between 22–34
On average it achieves 79% of the official MPG figure

The BMW X1 is one of the founding fathers of the posh, road-biased small SUV segment. Before the first model (not the second-generation one in this review) arrived in 2009 the premium brands were only building larger, heavier SUVs, but VW had a hit on its hands with the Tiguan, and others were on their way. 

Over a decade later and the market for compact, posh SUVs is enormous. So much so that BMW will sell you not one, but two - the X1 was joined a few years ago by the less practical but sportier X2

Today's BMW X1 has been on sale since 2015, but has received a number of upgrades in this time to keep it competitive with the vast array of newer offerings, which include the Audi Q3, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Jaguar E-Pace, Range Rover Evoque and Volvo XC40

These updates include what was a fairly mild exterior revision in 2019, but there's also been a redesigned cabin and improvements to the technology. The engine range became cleaner, too, while a frugal plug-in hybrid model was added to the range. 

The BMW X1 doesn't look that dated on the outside, but its familiarity and the sheer number of older examples out there means it isn't as special as it was a few years ago. Inside, quality is still up to scratch, but the design is looking old-hat - particularly next to newer BMWs like the 1 Series and 3 Series

Standard equipment is generous – all models get navigation, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, DAB radio and front collision assistance among the basic gear. The front collision assist doesn’t just improve safety, it also lowers insurance premiums, meaning the new X1 is cheaper to insure than before.

It’s cheaper to run too, thanks to reduced emissions and improved fuel economy. The cleanest and most frugal model is the entry-level front-wheel drive sDrive18d diesel, whic has official economy of more than 60mpg. We’d recommend the more powerful, all-wheel drive xDrive20d however, which is still economical but has more get up and go. It's a brilliant small 4x4 with all the creature comforts you could want. 

The engine range also includes the 192PS xDrive20i petrol and 231PS xDrive25d diesel, as well as an all-wheel drive version of the entry-level 18d diesel. The X1 is at its best with the eight-speed automatic transmission, which uses the standard navigation system to predict the right gear for bends and hills, making for smoother progress, particularly on country roads.

Regardless of engine or transmission the X1 is a good car to drive, with accurate, nicely weighted steering and well-judged suspension that gives good body control without being uncomfortably firm. It'll deal with the kerbs at your supermarket car park or grass verges, too, but don't expect it to venture anywhere near as far off-road as the Evoque will. 

On the whole the BMW X1 has aged reasonably well, particularly when it comes to the driving experience. But with such an excellent choice of more modern alternatives on the scene it's becoming hard to recommend as a new buy. Those after a small used SUV will get a great offering, however. 

If you're after the older version of the BMW X1, you'll want our BMW X1 2009-2015 review. 

Ask Honest John

Is it worth remapping the ECU in my car?

"Is it worth the cost of a remapping of the cars ECU on my BMW X1 2.0d?"
A lot of remap companies claim to be able to increase the power of the BMW X1 2.0d engine from 147/163bhp standard all the way to 220bhp and if you want extra performance and torque then it's certainly an option. However, do remember that manufacturers tend to optimise the power and torque of their engines to ensure reliability and efficiency as much as performance. A remap can put extra strain on the transmission, suspension, brakes and steering and can cause additional wear, as well as generally give worse fuel economy. If your car is still under warranty - be it manufacturer cover or independent - this could also be affected by a remap.
Answered by Craig Cheetham

I need to replace my BMW 420i for something with a higher driving position, what do you suggest?

"I have a BMW 420i grand coupe. I’ve had it since 2016. I really love it but I have arthritic knees and I’m finding it too low. Reluctantly, I think I’ll need to change it for a car with higher seats, maybe an SUV. What would you recommend please? BMW’s are now so expensive. I was wondering if there is a better value car that would be just as lovely to drive and smart inside. It’s just me and the dog in it usually."
If you still love your BMW 420i but are put off by the price of new models, you could consider a used example of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer or X3, both of which offer a similar driving experience to your 4 Series but with a higher driving position. As for new alternatives, you could consider the Volvo XC40 or the BMW X1, which may be within your budget.
Answered by David Ross

When do I stop paying the premium rate of road tax?

"I have a 2020 (August) BMW X1 M Sport, I am currently paying £570.00 per annum road tax. I understand that the excise duty is higher for vehicles over £40,000 when new, however when will the cost fall, and if so what would the annual duty be?"
If you are paying the premium rate of VED on your BMW, this is charged for five years from the second time the vehicle is taxed, so this will apply for you until August 2026. At the current rates your VED amount would reduced to £180, but it is likely that rates will change again before 2026.
Answered by David Ross

I'm buying a new BMW X1, will it have the latest operating system?

"I would just like your view on the following. For many, many months I have been trying to buy a new BMW X1 (U11 series) and finally managed to source one for estimated delivery in September. I am aware BMW are in the process of changing their infotainment system from Operating System 8 to Operating System 9 - improving its usability. Can I insist my new car has this 'upgrade'? Or if not, is it like an iPhone for example, where the operating system software can be routinely updated?"
BMW is introducing the OS9 system to vehicles throughout 2023, and in its own press release it states that it will appear in the compact class first in the new BMW X1 beginning with November 2023 production. It seems unlikely that it will introduce a new vehicle with the old operating system although it is possible, so if you are looking at getting one of the earliest cars it would be worth checking with the dealer to see if they can confirm the operating system that will be installed. Based on the existing OS8 and OS8.5 versions, it is not possible to update the system software to the latter version as it also incorporates hardware changes, so we would not count on being able to upgrade OS8.5 to OS9.
Answered by David Ross
More Questions

What does a BMW X1 (2015 – 2022) cost?