We’ve come to expect great things from BMW’s SUVs, after the brilliance of its X5 and X3. So when the X1 appeared in 2009 the stakes were high; we expected a great driving experience, an excellent cabin and an array of brilliantly efficient engines. The fact that the X1 is more of a crossover than a proper SUV made BMW’s job easier, so its deft handling was no surprise – although a cramped cabin featuring sub-standard materials was unexpected. Despite this, as classy crossovers go, the BMW X1 can still make a compelling used buy.
12/09: The X1 arrives with a four-cylinder, 2.0-litre diesel engine in 18d (143bhp), 20d (177bhp) and 23d (204bhp) forms. The first two came in rear (sDrive) or four-wheel drive (xDrive) guises; the 23d was 4WD only. There’s SE trim only.
01/11: MSport trim joins the range.
09/11: The 163bhp xDrive20d EfficientDynamics appears, rated at 119g/km.
06/12: A facelift brings revised interior and exterior styling, two new trims (Sport and xLine), cleaner engines and an eight-speed auto option. Also, the 218bhp xDrive25d replaces the xDrive23d and the 20d is boosted to 184bhp.
- Some owners have had issues with vibrations through the steering wheel, causing discomfort on long trips.
- The run-flat tyres are more costly than regular rubber, so see if replacements are due.
- Some of the cabin materials of early cars didn’t look or feel up to the usual BMW standards, but things improved with the 2012 facelift.
- If you’re buying an X1 to carry three adults in the rear, you might have to rethink as it’s not very spacious back there; leg room is tight.
- The N47 2.0-litre diesel can suffer from timing chain failure, which wrecks the engine. Listen for rattles from the back of the unit, indicating wear.
- Not all cars have bluetooth as standard, but it is possible to fit it retrospectively. However, to have the BMW kit installed is costly.
- Driving experience
- Efficient engines
We don’t like
- Awkward styling
- Iffy interior quality
- Cramped cabin
- Unsettled ride