Review: BMW X1 (2015)

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

Expensive compared to mainstream rivals like the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar, but less than an Evoque. Options can add up quickly.

BMW X1 (2015): At A Glance

With a classy cabin, impressively capable engines, low running costs and generous standard equipment, the 2015 front-wheel drive BMW X1 was a big step up from ithe original X1. Buyers looking at the Mercedes-Benz GLA or Audi Q3 should take note – BMW’s alternative is a real competitor.

Compared to the old X1 the new model looks a lot larger in pictures, but that’s deceptive. It’s actually slightly shorter, though it has increased in width and height a little. That makes for a more spacious cabin than before, with a back row that’s comfortable for adults and a flat, wide, 505-litre load area.

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.

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. The X1 works off road too, tackling steep hills and loose surfaces like gravel with aplomb. Serious off-roading might not be possible, but for the average buyer the X1 is more than capable.

There are dozens of crossovers to choose from these days, whether in the form of popular mainstream models like the Nissan Qashqai or more luxurious alternatives such as the Audi Q3. But even in the face of some very serious competition the new-generation BMW X1 is a very impressive car indeed.

BMW X1 xDrive 25d xline 2019 Road Test

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What does a BMW X1 (2015) cost?

List Price from £29,450
Buy new from £26,716
Contract hire from £267.98 per month

BMW X1 (2015): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4439 mm
Width 2060 mm
Height 1598–1612 mm
Wheelbase 2670 mm

Full specifications

The BMW X1 has a very similar cabin layout to any other current BMW model, with a driver-oriented centre-stack, standard-fit iDrive system and impressively solid yet plush material choices. The back row is very spacious indeed, with masses of leg and headroom even for taller adults – it’s much better than the old X1 on the practicality front.

It’s the same story with the boot. The tailgate is electric as standard and the load area is flat, with no load lip to lift bulky items over. Underneath the boot floor is a storage space which is ideal for hiding valuables, plus there is a selection of accessories that can be stowed underneath it, including a folding bicycle rack.

The load volume is 505 litres, but this can be expanded to 1550 litres if the back row is folded. The rear seat backs split 40/20/40 as standard, plus you can specify optional sliding and reclining rear seats. These retain the split for folding but slide in a 60/40 split, giving owners the option to sacrifice some rear legroom for a bit more load space or vice-versa.

Standard equipment is generous, which may come as a surprise to BMW newcomers. All cars have dual-zone climate control, ‘Active Guard’ forward collision assistance, auto lights, auto wipers, an electronically operated tailgate and even a navigation system. Opting for a higher trim grade adds luxury extras and different styling.

Sport models get larger 18-inch alloy wheels and Sport specific styling, while M Sport models gain sport suspension, LED headlights and M Sport details inside and out. The xLine trim costs the same as M Sport but has more subtle styling details and leather, in place of the M Sport’s Alcantara and cloth. Optional extras include a panoramic glass roof, a Harmon Kardon audio system and a larger iDrive screen with improved navigation - but beware, these can be expensive and add up quickly. 

Standard Equipment from launch:

SE is the basic trim level and comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, Active Guard pre-collision assistance, BMW emergency call, navigation, DAB radio, dual-zone climate control, front fog lights, iDrive controller and 7-inch screen, front and rear Isofix mounting points (3x), power tailgate, auto lights, auto wipers and rear parking sensors.

Sport trim adds 18-inch alloy wheels, sports seats and Sport-specific interior and exterior details.

M Sport trim adds 18-inch M sport alloy wheels, Alcantara and cloth upholstery, LED headlights, sports seats and M Sport interior and exterior details.

xLine trim costs the same as M Sport, but has alternative styling details, alternative alloy-wheels, leather upholstery and heated front seats.

Child seats that fit a BMW X1 (2015)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

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What's the BMW X1 (2015) like to drive?

There's a choice of four engines – three petrol and one diesel. The entry-level option is the front-wheel drive sDrive18d – the only two-wheel drive model available. This is also sold with four-wheel drive as the xDrive18d and is joined by the xDrive20d and xDrive25d diesels, as well as the xDrive20i petrol, all of which have all-wheel drive as standard.

Despite their different names, the three diesel variants actually all use the same basic 2.0-litre engine, but sold in different outputs.

The entry-level 18d produces 150PS, the 20d produces 190PS and the 25d produces 231PS, with respective torque figures of 330Nm, 400Nm and 450Nm. The solitary petrol model produces 192PS, with 280Nm of torque.

The cleanest and most efficient option is the front-wheel drive sDrive18d, which emits an impressively low 109g/km of CO2 and is officially capable of 62.8mpg. However we'd recommend the xDrive20d which, despite having all-wheel drive, is surprisingly frugal, with official economy of 55.4mpg and emissions of 133g/km.

We think it’s the pick of the X1 engine range, giving an excellent blend of performance, economy and list price. It produces plenty of low down torque, so is great when joining motorways from slip roads or for overtaking slow traffic, but it is always quiet and refined even when pushed hard.

It works best with BMW’s eight-speed automatic transmission. This is smooth and responsive, plus it links up to the standard-fit navigation system in order to predict what gear you’ll need when, for example, approaching an incline or a sharp series of bends. It’s subtle but it does make for smoother driving.

The rest of the diesel engine range is strong, whether you’re saving a bit of money by choosing the entry-level sDrive18d or plumping for the range-topping xDrive25d, which has a hefty 450Nm of torque. If you want a petrol there is only one and it too is a strong performer, but it has the highest emissions of any X1 at 146g/km, with economy of 44.8mpg.

Whichever engine you opt for you’ll get impressive handling, with direct, precise and well-weighted steering plus an enjoyable gear change if you choose a manual. Despite being a fairly high-riding car the X1 corners well, with little in the way of body roll. That does mean the ride is fairly firm, but it’s nicely damped so never really gets uncomfortable even on broken road surfaces.

The driver can choose from three drive modes – Eco Pro, Comfort, and Sport. Eco Pro reduces throttle response and changes the settings for air-conditioning to improve fuel economy, while Sport sharpens the throttle response, adds some resistance to the steering and stiffens up the optional electronically-controlled dampers, if they have been specified. The default Comfort setting bridges the gap between Sport and Eco Pro.

The all-wheel drive system, which is standard on most X1 models, works well on loose surfaces like gravel and, despite an obvious on-road bias, the X1 is an impressive off-road performer. It’s capable of tackling steep hills and poor surfaces very well, but it’s not meant for really tough mud-plugging. That said it should cope with anything the average owner throws at it. 

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
sDrive 18d 61 mpg 9.2 s 109 g/km
sDrive 18d Automatic 61 mpg 9.2 s 114 g/km
sDrive 18i 49 mpg 9.6 s 129 g/km
sDrive 18i Automatic 49 mpg 9.6 s 133 g/km
sDrive 20i Automatic 47 mpg 7.6 s 130 g/km
xDrive 18d 57 mpg 9.2 s 124 g/km
xDrive 18d Automatic 59 mpg 9.3 s 124 g/km
xDrive 20d 59 mpg 7.6 s 127 g/km
xDrive 20d Automatic 59 mpg 7.6 s 128–129 g/km
xDrive 20i Automatic 46 mpg 7.4 s 146 g/km
xDrive 25d Automatic 55 mpg 6.6 s 132–133 g/km

Real MPG average for a BMW X1 (2015)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

27–58 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the BMW X1 (2015)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Can I fit non-runflat tyres to my BMW X1?

Can I swap the runflat tyres on my BMW X1 XDrive M Sport auto for non-runflats?
Yes, but then you will need to buy a spare wheel and find somewhere to put it. If your X1 is on stupid 19-inch wheels with 225/45 R19 fronts and 255/40 R19 rears then the profile of the tyres is the problem, not that they are runflats. For a more comfortable ride you can fit 18-inch wheels with 225/50 tyres or 17-inch with 225/55 tyres.
Answered by Honest John
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