The X1, BMW's most compact sports utility vehicle, has been quite a success in the UK. This improved MK2 model aims to build on that, being smarter and better equipped and now offering the option of plug-in petrol power. Will this revitalised X1 continue to hit this segment's sweet spot?
The MK2 model X1 uses BMW's efficient generation of four-cylinder engines. Plus the brand's intelligent all-wheel-drive system, which distributes the engine's power between the front and rear axles as the situation requires, has been upgraded. Most buyers though, will be happy with front-wheel-drive. There's also a wide track, short overhangs and the usual 50:50 weight distribution.
The petrol range only comes with sDrive 2WD and starts with the 140hp 1.5-litre sDrive 18i model available with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual clutch auto. The petrol alternative is the 2.0-litre X1 sDrive20i, which delivers a total power output of 192hp and can only be specified with a seven-speed Sport dual-clutch automatic. There's also an xDrive 25e petrol/electric plug-in hybrid version.
Most X1 sales though, are made with the two 2.0-litre diesel variants. There's a 150hp 2WD sDrive18d diesel version, offered with either sDrive 2WD or xDrive 4WD and available with an 8-speed Steptronic auto gearbox as an alternative to the usual slick 6-speed BMW manual stick shifter. Or you can have an xDrive-only 190bhp 4WD xDrive20d model, which comes only with eight-speed Sport automatic transmission that enables it to accelerate from zero to 62mph in 7.8s and go on to a top speed of 136mph.
This second generation X1 remains unmistakably a BMW and has been updated with a larger BMW kidney grille and standard full-LED headlights. The front bumper now boasts integral LED foglamps and all model variants feature larger air intakes. Another change can be found at the driver's-side exterior mirror, which projects a two-tone LED 'X1' image when the car is unlocked. At the rear, there are revised LED tail light and redesigned inlays on the apron. The four-cylinder variants get twin tailpipes.
Inside, the flat surfaces of the instrument panel and centre console controls are angled towards the driver, while the controls located in the lower section are surrounded by quality surfaces and are separated from the front passenger side by a smartly-designed bar. The updated interior details include contrast stitching on the instrument panel, which is black on its upper section and adopts the car's individual upholstery colour lower down. There's also an updated Navigation system with either an 8.8-inch screen or the optional 10.25-inch Touch Control Display. Either way, this allows access to the sixth generation of BMW's iDrive infotainment system that introduces touchscreen control for the Control Display alongside the iDrive Controller and optional intelligent voice control. A head-up display is also available. Boot capacity remains at a practical 505-litres. It can be upped to as much as 1,550-litres by folding down the standard 40:20:40 split rear seat. A 60:40 split-rear bench is an option that can come with individual elements able to slide the seat forward or back by up to 13cms.
And in summary? Well, yes there are smarter and more purposeful-looking SUVs and Crossovers you could buy for the same kind of money, but against those, this BMW offers a range of unique selling points. It's alone in this segment in offering the option of a rewarding rear-wheel drive layout. And a far smoother and more sophisticated 8-speed automatic gearbox. Plus you get ride quality that's arguably best in class.
It all adds up to a car now very well worth short-listing if you're looking for a satisfying ownership proposition amongst the many compact SUVs and Crossovers now on sale. It still isn't an obvious choice. But now, it's one you might just enjoy making.Click here to find out more about our BMW X1 range