Proof the BMW X1 junior off-roader is going to be worth waiting for

What is it?

BMW’s new junior off-roader – the X1. UK sales are slated to get underway around October, with local BMW officials hinting at a starting price of £25,000 for the entry-level xDrive18i and rising to around £35,000 for the range topping xDrive28i.

BMW is going for a broad reach with the X1, which will come with the option of three petrol and three diesel engines from the outset. The petrols include two 2.0-litre units with 141bhp and 168bhp, and a 254bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder unit. On the diesel side there is a trio of 2.0-litre common rail fours producing 141bhp, 175bhp and 201bhp. We’re testing a prototype of the 201bhp xDrive23d here.

We finally get behind the wheel of the second generation BMW X1, read our thoughts here

A six-speed manual gearbox is standard on all but the xDrive30i and xDrive23d, both of which receive a six-speed automatic with remote shift buttons on the steering wheel.

Drive is sent permanently to all four wheels via BMW’s xDrive system, which employs a multi-plate clutch to apportion the engine’s reserves to the wheels in a nominal 30:70 split front-to-rear, but which can vary 100:0 or 0:100 depending on conditions.

The X1 sits on a lightly modified platform from the four-wheel drive 3-series – a model not offered in the UK, but which has proven popular in other European countries in recent years.

What’s it like?

The first thing that grabs your attention is the gutsy engine. The 2.0-litre diesel unit is relatively small in outright capacity. However, the combination of twin turbocharging and the latest in common rail technology helps provide it with the sort of shove to shame many larger engines. With 258lb ft of torque at 2000rpm, it hauls BMW’s new junior off-roader along with ease. At 75mph it barely raises a sweat, ticking over at 2500rpm in top gear.

BMW puts the xDrive23d’s 0-62mph acceleration at 7.3sec, yet in real world driving it feels even quicker. It’s also frugal, averaging almost 45mpg. It is all helped by the slick shifting nature of the standard six-speed automatic gearbox, which adds to the feeling of refinement.

With relatively compact dimensions, the X1 is perfectly suited to urban driving. Despite its long bonnet, the raised seating position provides a good view of the road out front. However, a shallow and heavily angled rear window and high mounted tailgate combine to make it difficult to judge during reversing.

In on-road situations it is highly satisfying to drive, feeling more like a traditional estate than a high riding off-roader, turning in with enthusiasm and cornering in a highly progressive fashion. With relatively wide tracks helping to distribute the weight, there is also little body roll and, thanks to four-wheel drive a good deal of grip, too.

The steering is reasonably weighty in the best of BMW traditions, although at 3.2 turns from lock to lock it not at all quick. But this is no sportscar, it’s an off-roader. It is the overall smoothness of the ride which impresses the most.

After traversing muddy fields and rocky trails we’re confident the X1 offers a good deal more capability than most owners will seek.

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For anyone with passing familiarity with recent BMWs, the X1’s cabin will be immediately recognisable. Although the dashboard and door trims of the pre-production cars we drove were partly disguised, it is clear the materials and overall quality of the production version will be similar to the existing 3-series.

BMW describes the X1 as a five seater. While three adults can find room up back, entry is tight through small door apertures and there is a lack of shoulder room once you’re seated. The rear seat is also mounted rather low and its cushion is flat.

BMW puts the X1’s nominal boot capacity at 420 litres – some 60 litres less than in the X3, although with the reclining back rest of the rear seat pushed all the way forward it extends to 480 litres.

Should I buy one?

From what could be gleaned during our time with final prototype versions, the BMW X1 clearly sets out to be the driver’s choice in an ever increasing group of compact off-roaders.

In simple terms, it takes all the likeable qualities of the 3-series and wraps them up in a higher-riding estate style body, also allowing you to head off-road when the need arises.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
mnk303 7 May 2011

Re: BMW X1 xDrive23d

Well I wanted a car that is posh, 4x4 sporty and in the flesh is actually got it the x1, I want to make sure my notes are useful to people buying a car not just people talking about what they don't like about a car! I come from big posh expensive cars, time to change to a small car, but hard to get "posh" car feel from small cars, well try an X1 somehow BMW do it, it's ride is amazing far better than my A6 bone shaker, mine is the 23d , you would not believe how quick a 2 lt twin turbo car can be, but this will match most of the 3lt cars performance at about 7 sec 0-60. I get 36-38 mpg round town and mid 40s on a bit of a run. It's overpriced but then compared to say a Q5 which can easily get to 45k it's not, do as I did, buy near new, don't waste your money on expensive extras, just make sure you get leather and a nice stereo, mine came with panoramic roof, leather, auto sat nav and a few toys, that's enough, wished the previous owner had ticked Bluetooth box, so I will have fitted a parrot system (as good as factory install) for £220. My cars was £36k new and 8k miles later 27k a nice saving. Very pleased with the car, lots of people comment to me how it's much nicer in the flesh , silly BMW using a brown car in the press!it's not quite up to Audi build quality with the odd squeaky plastic trim, but for me I have improved my mpg by about 35% drive a smaller with nearly same interior space as a big car, will save big bucks on service cody and run it for a couple of years knowing my old barges will be worth a fraction of what this carbwill be worth in 2 years.

drivenfromthere... 4 June 2009

Re: BMW X1 xDrive23d prototype

ThwartedEfforts wrote:
Go back to your geography homework.

Yes Sir!

ThwartedEfforts 4 June 2009

Re: BMW X1 xDrive23d prototype

drivenfromtherearplease wrote:

ThwartedEfforts wrote:
The best line in prejudiced, unverifiable horseshit: BMW owners

Have you considered removing the h and r from your name?

Huhuhuhuhuh. Have you considered changing the 'drivenfrom' to 'takenup' in your name? Probably not.

This wasn't funny the last time you posted it. Go back to your geography homework.