BMW X1 a significantly better family vehicle

RACV RoyalAuto Magazine

This page contains archived content

To visit the new RoyalAuto website you can use the link below. 


Price: $56,500 + orc.
Engine: 2.0L 4cyl diesel
Safety: ESC, ABS, 6 airbags, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control.
Economy: 5.5L/100km.
Value: * * * *

A more focused design, the result of consumer feedback on better utilising cabin space and family functionality, is a feature of the second-generation BMW X1.

While the first X1 brought image and an entertaining drive to the segment, its interior fell short of the typical BMW presentation, and in practicality terms the body design could be accused of being style over function.

The latest X1 is all-new and significantly a better blend of SUV architecture and the expected BMW design presence and driving dynamics. This is thanks to a fundamental reconfiguration of the engine – it’s now east/west – and in the driveline, which is front-wheel-drive in sDrive variants and part-time all-wheel-drive in xDrive models.

Placing the engine across the chassis allowed the front to be shortened by 15mm and the wheelbase reduced by 90mm, and yet there is significantly more occupant and load space. X1 has grown most noticeably in height, with all seating positions raised to improve vision for both drivers and children in the rear. Rear leg room is increased by 66mm, and the luggage compartment grows by 85 litres to 505 litres.

Dashboard view of a BMW X1
Side view of a BMW X1
Rear light view of a BMW X1
Front light view of a BMW X1

Distinct sporting image

If you’re getting a vision of a short dumpy SUV, think again. Enter Sydney born designer Calvin Luk, who has created athletic cabin architecture and sharp detailing, ensuring this X1 sits comfortably within the distinct BMW sporting image and with various styling cues that link to the highly desirable X5.

The new line-up is four models, each with 2.0L turbo engines in either petrol or diesel, and 2WD or AWD, and mated to an 8spd automatic transmission. Our test car was the on-demand AWD xDrive20d diesel from $56,500.

Great cabin presentation

In addition to a vastly improved cabin presentation, with materials and finish now all you would expect from a prestige European brand, standard equipment specification has stepped up a notch. On the safety side, all models have intelligent emergency call, six airbags, adaptive cruise control and driver assist camera with braking function, rear-view camera, front and rear parking sensors and fully automated parking assist. Standard equipment across the range includes climate control, navigation, smart phone connectivity, real-time traffic information and auto high-beam lights.

Options are extensive. On the xDrive 20d, packages include 19-inch alloy wheels, natural leather trim, head-up display, keyless entry, a larger 8.8-inch high-resolution navigation display and electric adjustment for the heated front seats. An M Sport package will be available later in 2016.

The new X1 cabin is a model of convenience. Short doors and hip-high seats ensure easy access, the stylish dials and switches are easy to identify and operate and there is now a thoughtful combination of switches for common radio/climate functions and a dial-up screen for the more intricate navigation or vehicle settings. There’s also a multitude of storage pockets, ventilation outlets and well-positioned lights, plus loads of rear compartment versatility including rake and travel-adjustable rear seats and a standard power tailgate. The neat load area’s hard flat floor has no load lip and conceals an equally large storage compartment underneath; that’s because, with run-flat tyres, there’s no spare wheel.

Comfort package

The optional comfort package meant our test car had heated electric leather front seats with two memory positions and adjustable lumbar support. These seats are somewhat smaller than usual and quite firm, although we had no issue with comfort on a long trip. A seat tilt would have been appreciated for tall drivers who need a little more leg support. There is a surprising amount of head and leg space and the rear is good for two adults or three children.

Sporting chassis dynamics are a BMW hallmark, and despite the X1’s new-found practicality it has lost none of its balance and poise on a cross-country run. The on-demand AWD ensures balance and traction over all surfaces, the steering is fingertip light and direct, and drivers can select various suspension and driveline settings. While X1 generally rides well, it is firm and there is no escaping the impact over short sharp bumps which are felt through the cabin, a condition seemingly amplified by the stiff run-flat tyres.

The engine has typically strong and even power delivery across the rev range, while the eight speed transmission ensures over­all performance is a little more spirited than most. Our 8.8 seconds to 100kmh from standstill is impressive for a small SUV, but the real joy is the mid-range pickup response, which makes X1 lively and agile. Fuel economy is an attraction for the diesel despite advances made in small turbo-petrol engines. Over a week we averaged 5.5L/100km, with a best of 4.9L/100km on the open road.

The verdict

BMW’s all-new X1 is a significantly better family vehicle, blending SUV cabin practicality, performance and economy with the BMW hallmarks of good design, interior presentation and a sporting drive.

BMW X1 xDrive20d

Price: $56,500 + $5675 (est.) on-road costs. Metallic paint $1140. Model range $49,500-$59,900.
Safety: ESC. ABS. 6 airbags. Adaptive cruise control. Autonomous emergency braking. Lane departure warning. Reversing camera. Front/rear parking sensors. Daytime running lights. Auto lights/wipers. ISOFIX fittings.
Standard features: Dual-zone climate-control. Auto parking. Sat-nav. Synthetic leather trim. LED headlights. Fog lights. High-end connectivity and audio. Auto tailgate. Roof rails.
Options: Tyre pressure indicator $423. Leather trim $1690. Sunroof $1690. Premium audio $1190. Innovations package $2700. Comfort package $2700.
Specifications: Drivetrain: 1995cc 4cyl turbo-diesel engine. 8spd auto. AWD. 140kW, 400Nm. 51L tank. 5.5L/100km (RACV test figure); 4.9L/100km (govt figure). Wheels: 18” alloy, 225/50 R18 run-flat tyres – no spare. Acceleration: 0-100kmh, 8.8 seconds; 50-80kmh (drive) 3.4 seconds; 60-100kmh (drive), 5.3 seconds; 0-400m, 16.3 seconds. Braking: 23.7m from 80kmh.
Towing: 2000kg braked trailer capacity (80kg towball load).
Environment: 129g/km CO2.
Service/repairs: Conditioned-based services. 3-year/unlimited km warranty.

Category ratings

Pricing: ***
Features & equipment: ***
Presentation: ****
Comfort: ***
Ride quality: ***
Noise: ****
Performance: **** 1/2
Economy: **** 1/2
Handling & braking: **** 1/2
Environment (GVG): unavailable
Safety (ANCAP): *****

* More RACV road tests and car reviews.

Comparable cars

LEXUS NX 200t – 2.0L turbo, petrol only, performs well but smaller and less practical than its rivals. $57,000

AUDI Q3 2.0 TDI – 2.0L petrol or diesel, excellent engine and driving dynamics, but this AWD is heavy and firm-riding. $56,900

M-BENZ GLC 220d – 2.1L diesel, impressive driveline refinement and dirt road manners. Top interior space and finish. $64,500

Lexus NX 200t
Audi Q3
Mercedes Benz GLC
Written by Ernest Litera
February 01, 2016