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First drive: BMW X1 (LCI). Image by BMW AG.

First drive: BMW X1 (LCI)
Very little has changed for the updated BMW X1 Mk2. In truth, very little needed to.

 



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BMW X1 xDrive25i M Sport

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When it comes to updating the best-selling product, worldwide, in your portfolio of crossovers and SUVs - in themselves, the best-selling types of car globally right now in terms of market growth - then it's best not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Luckily, with the revised X1, BMW's sales 'baby' continues to be one of the best premium crossovers in its class.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: BMW X1 xDrive25i M Sport (LCI)
Pricing: X1 range from 28,795, xDrive25i M Sport tbc
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: xDrive all-wheel drive, eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic
Body style: five-door crossover/SUV
CO2 emissions: 144g/km (VED Band 131-150: 210 first 12 months, then 465 years two-six of ownership (see main review), then 145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 44.8mpg
Top speed: 147mph
0-62mph: 6.5 seconds
Power: 231hp at 5,000-6,000rpm
Torque: 350Nm at 1,450-4,500rpm
Boot space: 505-1,550 litres

What's this?

When BMW had to replace the original 'E84' X1, built from 2009-2015, with this F48 Mk2 in 2015, it had a huge job on its hands. The first X1, while technically intriguing for its longitudinal engine layout (meaning 2WD 'sDrive'-badged models were rear-driven), was a real 'box o' bits'. It was hastily cobbled together from whatever BMW had lying around, in order to cash in on the early shoots of the crossover boom, and it showed - as it felt rough, unresolved and not up to the prevailing class standards throughout its life.

People bought 'em, though. Hand over fist. To the degree that, come the second generation and the succeeding four years on sale, this is now BMW's best-selling X vehicle the world over, the Mk2's showroom success built on the foundations of the Mk1's confounding popularity with the public. True, a lot of the Mk2's annual unit numbers are derived from the Chinese market, where they make a long-wheelbase X1 specifically for the country, but it's still an impressive achievement from a crossover that's based on the oily bits of a MINI.

The life-cycle impulse (LCI) for the X1 is, therefore, an understandably careful and gentle one on the part of BMW. Aside from the incoming xDrive25e PHEV version of the crossover, the drivetrains for the X1 are pretty much all carry-over from the pre-LCI models. This engine, in particular, is familiar from the closely related MINI John Cooper Works Countryman; although, that's not quite the case any longer, as the JCW versions of the bigger MINIs have just shifted to the 306hp 2.0-litre unit found in the X2 M35i - itself closely related to the X1. We really do hope you are following all this...

Anyway, with 231hp and 350Nm, the xDrive25i is the hottest X1 you can get. Or, at least, it is in Germany; as yet, this version isn't confirmed for the UK. If it does come here, it would be considerably more money than the current petrol flagship, which is the 37,025 xDrive20i M Sport (192hp). And, by more money, we reckon beyond the 40,000 tipping point for the rich tax on VED in years two to six of ownership, which might mean the xDrive25i doesn't come here at all.

Extrapolating about the 25i's possible presence on these shores or otherwise, what we can tell you is that the revised X1 has more LED lighting available at the front of the car, where the foglights have become thin strips in enlarged air intakes as part of a redesigned bumper, while - if you see the 'cross-cut' hexagonal motifs in the main headlight clusters - then fancy-pants Adaptive Icon LED lamps have been specified. The kidney grilles look more like those on the X1's X2 cousin, three new body colours (Jucaro Beige, Storm Bay and the Misano Blue of the car in the pictures) and fresh designs of 18- and 19-inch alloy wheel are drafted in, and at the back you might spot that the exhausts look a little plumper; they're 90mm exits now, instead of the 70mm items that went before. If it's night time, then an easy tell for an X1 LCI is that it beams an 'X1' graphic onto the floor from the driver's door puddle light.

Inside, the 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment is the main upgrade, bringing in its spectacular ease-of-use interface and wonderfully crisp graphics, so the ambience of the BMW has gone up several notches by dint of its inclusion alone. The X1 does not get the full digital cluster of grander SUVs, like the larger X3, but new 'black panel' illumination still manages to make the analogue dials look classy. While there are areas where the X1's cabin displays signs of cost-cutting, because it's the junior product in the whole crossover/SUV range, overall the quality feel of it is commendably high across the board. And it's spacious too: the rear bench is just about accommodating for adults, but the boot is a proper whopper at 505 litres.

How does it drive?

Rather well, as you'd expect of a BMW product with a meaty 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and all the traction benefits of xDrive. It's not out-and-out thrilling, or some sort of 'hidden gem' crossover that delivers a seminal dynamic experience to wow the keener helmsmith, but it has masses of mechanical grip, it has some of BMW's better steering - which is to say, when you dial up Sport mode then you don't get a horribly gloopy, hefty feel to the set-up, something we've found in a few other Beemers of late - and the body control is of a suitably lofty standard that you can chuck it about as if it were a hot hatch. Of sorts. The xDrive is clever in that it doesn't bring much in the way of understeer to proceedings, even though the X1 is obviously now on a front-drive platform, and the Steptronic gearbox is, well... a Steptronic gearbox, so it's near-faultless for an automatic.

Good engine, too, with plenty of reach and enough muscularity to make it decently flexible in-gear, although if you want mammoth torque there's an xDrive25d biturbo 2.0-litre diesel to go for instead. It matches the 25i's 231hp but eclipses the petrol's 350Nm with another 100 Newton metres on top. Having sampled both, the diesel is deeply pleasing, especially with its mental midrange responsiveness, but we'd say the petrol delivers the sweeter, purer steer. It has less weight over the nose, you see, and obviously revs higher and harder than the 25d; admittedly, though, as derv-burners go, the diesel X1 is happy to spin out to 5,000rpm, which is positively stratospheric by the fuel's standards.

However, this may all be a totally academic discussion because the 25d, like the 25i, is not on the UK price lists right now. So let's try and focus on some of the generic impressions of the revised X1, which might apply to models with smaller engines. The noise suppression is excellent. On an Autobahn at 120mph-plus, yes, there's quite a bit of wind buffeting, but as this is wholly irrelevant in a country where 70mph is the legal limit then that's simply not an issue. Because, at lower speeds, the chatter of the tyres, the airflow around outside of the passenger compartment and the exertions of the TwinPower Turbo motor are all negligible. The Steptronic goes from being whip-crack smart in its manual mode to being executive-limo smooth as a lazy self-shifter, while the two-stage adjustable dampers (an option that was fitted to the xDrive25i) blessed the 231hp X1 M Sport with such a supple ride in Comfort mode that we had to get out and double-check that the crossover was riding on 19s. OK, this was in Germany, so crumbly British roads might reveal more flaws with the X1's composure, but on this showing it certainly felt a cut above the mainstream rivals in terms of its rolling refinement. And as the 25d we drove later in the day had passive dampers and felt almost every bit as comfortable, then we're hopeful that the revised X1 range will cope admirably well with the UK's network.

Verdict

The BMW X1 LCI: always an excellent premium crossover in Mk2 format, largely unchanged for the updates. Cleverly, the X1 hasn't stagnated and a few well-thought-out detail revisions by Munich mean that it keeps ahead of the chasing pack, rather than being subsumed by it. It therefore remains a very strong contender in its premium-brand sector and a worthwhile alternative to a comparative-price yet larger crossover/SUV from more everyday marques. We like the 25i as a sort of weird, unassuming hot hatchback analogue, yet it'll be the more reasonably priced - and powered - models of the X1 which will make the most sense in the UK.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 26 Sep 2019









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2019 BMW X1 xDrive25i M Sport. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW X1 xDrive25i M Sport. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW X1 xDrive25i M Sport. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW X1 xDrive25i M Sport. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW X1 xDrive25i M Sport. Image by BMW AG.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive25i M Sport. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW X1 xDrive25i M Sport. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW X1 xDrive25i M Sport. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW X1 xDrive25i M Sport. Image by BMW AG.2019 BMW X1 xDrive25i M Sport. Image by BMW AG.








 

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