BMW X1 xDrive25d xLine 2019 Road Test

BMW has done very little to the X1 to bring it up-to-date against recently revamped rivals like the Audi Q3 and Range Rover Evoque. A few cosmetic touches aside, it’s business as usual for the X1 - and that means a quality cabin, high amounts of standard equipment and an enjoyable driving experience.

The most obvious change is the addition of a bigger front grille, matching the gaping front ends of the latest BMW X7 and 3 Series, among others. The front bumper now looks more aggressive, housing the new LED fog lights, while the rear lights are now also LED. The exhaust tips have grown in size by two centimetres, while a range of new colours are also available. There's also a selection of new alloy wheel designs - nothing groundbreaking.

Inside, an 8.8-inch media display in the centre of the dash is now standard across the range, with BMW’s new 10.25-inch system available as an optional extra. This can be operated using the rotary iDrive controller positioned between the front seats, as well as touchscreen or even voice control. It's a brilliantly intuitive system to operate, although we still find it a bit frustrating that you'll need to pay a yearly fee for Apple CarPlay (and Android Auto simply isn't available).

The X1 does feel a little bit “last-generation BMW” inside, with more in common with the old 1 Series than the new one. That doesn’t make it any less premium, however - there are lots of soft-touch materials and plenty of technology to keep you entertained. Ambient lighting (standard on Sport and xLine models) is a welcome new addition, as is a variety of new upholsteries.

BMW-X1-(8)

Lots of people buy crossover SUVs as they're easy to get in and out of. The BMW X1 is no exception. It's just the right height for getting in without having to stoop down or climb up while the seating position is usefully higher than a conventional hatchback - perfect for getting a good view of the road ahead.

Access to the boot is also very good, with a wide opening and little in the way of a lip making it very easy to load bulky items. The boot is a generous 505 litres - bigger than most premium alternatives - meaning it's a sensible option for the small family. Space in the back is pretty good, too, with a generous amount of head and legroom and a good view out for young children.

The model we’re driving here is the four-wheel-drive xDrive25d, which isn’t actually going to be sold in the UK. A 150PS version of the same 2.0-litre diesel engine badged the xDrive18d will be available and will, we expect, be very similar - albeit with 40PS less power. There is also be a front-wheel-drive version, named the sDrive18d.

From next year, a plug-in hybrid version of the BMW X1 will be offered for the first time. Sharing a hybrid system with the MINI Countryman Plug-in Hybrid, the X1 xDrive25e combines a 125PS petrol engine with a 95PS electric motor. It can cover 31 miles under electric power alone, says BMW.

BMW-X1-(5)

Regardless of the engine, the X1 is excellent to drive. It remains composed in bends, with little in the way of roll, plus the steering is very good. The xDrive models, with their intelligent four-wheel-drive are particularly agile, shifting torque between axles to reduce understeer during extreme cornering. For the majority of buyers, the front-wheel-drive versions make more sense thanks to reduced running costs - and, of course, a set of winter tyres will make a big difference in cold conditions.

A trade-off for the agile driving experience is a slightly firm ride, especially compared to the softer Volvo XC40. It's not uncomfortable but you will find yourself swerving to avoid potholes and slowing down for speed bumps. That aside, refinement is very good, with wind and road noise well contained at motorway speeds.

All diesel X1 models sold in the UK are paired with BMW's eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission. This is particularly good - indeed, much faster to respond than dual-clutch gearboxes used in Volkswagen Group rivals, shifting seamlessly and quickly dropping gears when required. There's also a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission available on petrol models, as well as a six-speed manual on the entry-level sDrive18i.

While the X1 might be showing its age slightly, it’s still an extremely good alternative to the Audi Q3, Volvo XC40 and Range Rover Evoque. Its updates are minor but, with it continuing to be one of BMW’s best-selling models, that’s all that was needed.

The BMW X1 is on sale now. Prices start at £28,795.

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