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BMW grows X1’s image, space and appeal

16:30 27 November 2015

New BMW X1 is shorter, taller  and wider and looks more like the bigger X3 and X5.

New BMW X1 is shorter, taller and wider and looks more like the bigger X3 and X5.

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BMW has launched a new generation of its pioneering X1 premium compact crossover to take on the rivals it has spawned, says Matt Joy.

What’s new?

The X1 might look pretty similar to the previous version, but it’s almost entirely transformed. It rides on a new platform shared with the 2 Series Active Tourer and uses a new four-wheel-drive system on models so equipped. The engines are updated and the automatic gearbox is new, while the exterior has been thoroughly revamped.

The new cabin is also loosely related on its 2 Series sibling and there’s an upgraded specification. For the UK there is one front-wheel-drive diesel version and three 4WD versions – two diesel and one petrol.

BMW X1

Price: BMW X1 xDrive25d xLine £36,060 (range from £31,225)

Engine: 2.0-litre, 234hp, four-cylinder turbo diesel

Transmission: Six-speed automatic driving all four wheels

Performance: 0-62mph 6.6 seconds; top speed 146mph

MPG: 56.5 combined

CO2 emissions: 132g/km

Looks and image

It’s a relatively compact car still so the X1 is the first step of BMW’s X models but there have been significant changes to its appearance. Considerably shorter but taller and wider than before, the X1 carries more authority, looking more like the bigger X3 and X5 models. It wears the bolder, larger kidney grille of the bigger models and gives off quality vibes, which is what will attract most buyers.

Space and practicality

The new platform means the engines are now transversely fitted, freeing up space in the cabin. The driving position has been raised so you sit with the authoritative set-up that is all important in this sector. Head and legroom is good – passengers now sit more upright, increasing the feeling of space. And boot space has risen to 505 litres.

Behind the wheel

Despite the X1 designed to be practical, sensible everyday transport, it drives well. In xDrive25d guise there’s a 234hp 2.0-litre diesel and, matched to a slick six-speed automatic, 0-62mph is despatched in just 6.6 seconds. Even so it provides a relatively relaxed driving experience and ample torque should make short work of heavy loads.

It also stays faithful to the BMW ethos by being rewarding to drive. The steering is quick, especially with optional active steering, and it resists roll through bends but the downside is a firm ride, although the right specification minimises the issue.

Value for money

The standard specification is healthy even on base xLine model, with DAB radio, 17in alloys, satellite navigation, BMW’s emergency on-call assist, rear parking sensors and automatic headlights and wipers.

Who would buy one?

The X1 is well placed to serve a very broad audience, as it offers good space inside but doesn’t take up a huge amount of road. Choose the right model and you get impressive fuel consumption – 65.7mpg from the sDrive18d – which should make it pretty cheap to run too. It’s ideal as a family car but also has that bit of presence and quality that will make it desirable for singletons and couples.

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Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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