BMW created the original X1 from various bits borrowed from the rest of its product line-up, but this second generation version is freshly designed from the ground up with much more space, sophisticated underpinnings and a hi-tech engine range. It’s a strong contender.
On the move, this second generation X1 feels quite different from its predecessor, with a higher-set driving position that’s less sporty but more commanding than before. All the key elements are in place for a decent driving experience and there’s a ‘Drive Performance Control’ vehicle dynamics system that, via three main modes, ‘ECO PRO’, ‘Comfort’ and ‘Sport’, allows you to tweak throttle response, steering feel and stability control thresholds. Gearshift timings too if you’ve opted for the 8-speed automatic gearbox.
You have to have auto transmission if you go for the 192bhp xDrive 20i petrol version or the top 231bhp xDrive 25d diesel. Otherwise, an auto ‘box is an option across the range. X1 buyers get a front-driven ‘sDrive’ set-up on lower-powered models and a 4x4 ‘xDrive’ layout for the pokier variants that gives you just enough on-demand traction for icy days and muddy tracks. Enginewise, the line-up starts with the three cylinder 1. 5-litre petrol and diesel units that BMW has borrowed from the MINI and fits to the base sDrive 18i and sDrive 16d derivatives. Otherwise, you’ll be looking at the Bavarian brand’s 2. 0-litre TwinPower diesel unit. This comes with 150bhp in the ‘sDrive 18d’ and ‘xDrive 18d’ models, or with 190bhp in the volume xDrive 20d variant.
At the front, there is a new found confidence in this design, the X1 taking its place in BMW’s X-model line-up. Large air intakes and a strong ‘X’ accent to the front bumper add to the more purposeful look, as does the contoured aluminium bonnet that flows into these enlarged and more prominent kidney grilles.
If you come to the car having been familiar with its first generation predecessor, then one of the first things you’ll notice is the way that you’re seated 30mm higher this time round, creating a much more SUV-like feeling of roadway command. The high quality layered fascia is much as it is in the other BMW the 2 Series Active Tourer. It curves around the cabin in a symmetrical wave garnished with textured aluminium, satin chrome inlays and carefully-chosen splashes of brightwork.
In the back access into the rear cabin is now much easier thanks to the much larger door apertures. In the back you really notice the benefit of this MK2 model’s extra 90mm of wheelbase length – and the seats positioned 64mm higher up give rear seat passengers a better view forward. The designers claim that there’s an extra 37mm more kneeroom too, a figure you can extend to a limousine-like 66mm if you pay extra for a sliding rear bench which offers 130mm of back-and-forth adjustment.
In the boot you’re provided with a class-leading 508-litre space, which means there’s 85-litres more than the previous model offered.
In summary it’s quite simpleBMW’s X1 is now the smart, practical and efficient prestige-badged family Crossover it should always have been. It does seem to have the X Factor.