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BMW X1 2018 review

EXPERT RATING
6.9
The BMW X1 is the most sensible member of the German brand's SUV family, lining up against broadly similar offering from arch rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

The BMW X1 is the base camp at the foot of the German brand’s SUV model mountain, but there's more to it than entry-point affordability.

Did you know it’s not the smallest SUV in the line-up? Or that it has a roomier cabin than an X3?

And there are many other surprises from this small and seemingly sensible and small member of BMW’s X family.
Want to know more? Then read this range review of the X1.

BMW X Models 2018: X1 Sdrive 18D
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency4.7L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$41,300

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

How much does the X1 cost? Let’s take a look at the price list. The X1 is the most affordable model in BMW’s SUV line-up and kicks off with the sDrive18i ($45,900 RRP), stepping up to the only diesel in the range, the sDrive18d ($49,900), followed by the sDrive20i ($53,600) and the top-of-the-range, and only all-wheel drive (AWD) variant, the xDrive25i ($61,500). Dealerships will often do driveaway deals and don’t be afraid to ask for their best price.

How much are second hand X1s going for? Well, at the time of writing there were four 2016 model X1s on carsguide.com.au, including an xDrive25i listed for $44,888. That should give you an idea about the X1’s resale value, too.

The top grade xDrive25i adds 19-inch alloy rims. (image credit: Richard Berry) The top grade xDrive25i adds 19-inch alloy rims. (image credit: Richard Berry)

An inside tip on BMW SUVs is that the lower grades in the range come with most of the standard features you’ll find on the top-spec models, so really, the extra dollars buy you an engine with more grunt or AWD, which improves the on-road experience.

Here I’ll show you. The entry grade sDrive18i, and its diesel twin the sDrive18d, come standard with LED cornering headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails (roof racks), a power tailgate, auto parking system (self parking/park assist), front and rear parking sensors, and cruise control.

Inside, these grades have a leather sports steering wheel, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with sat nav, reversing camera, six-speaker stereo, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity, air-conditioning, cargo cover and floor mats.

The sDrive20i has all of this and adds dual-zone climate control, a luggage net, a dimming rear view mirror and an ambient lighting package.

The entry grade sDrive18i comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen with sat nav and DAB digital radio. (image credit: Richard Berry) The entry grade sDrive18i comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen with sat nav and DAB digital radio. (image credit: Richard Berry)

The top grade xDrive25i adds 19-inch alloy rims, leather upholstery, powered and heated driver and front passenger seats, a larger 8.8-inch touch screen and a more sophisticated sat nav system.

Tinted windows are a $456 option and if you want Apple CarPlay it’s $436, although if you don’t have an iPhone you’ll be sad and annoyed to hear there's no Android Auto available on the X1.

If you want to feel like an ant under a magnifying glass, you can option the $1627 panoramic sunroof.

Rivals to the X1? Well as a model comparison, definitely take a look at Mercedes-Benz’s GLA, Audi’s Q3 and even the Mini Countryman, all of which match the price of the X1.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The X1 doesn’t have the handsome, tough looks of the larger, boxier X3 and X5, and despite being almost identical under its metal skin to the X2 it’s nowhere near as sleek and pretty.

Nope the X1 is the sensible one in the family and in many ways this is a strength and you can read all about its practical side below.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a prestige car and it looks it outside and inside where the premium feeling interior is well-crafted.

Take a look at the interior images. BMW fans will know the dash layout well – that large centre stack of climate control and media, but the scooped-out centre console design is new to this generation and looks great.

  • The X1 uses the same the platform as the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, and inherits many of its good practicality points. (image credit: Richard Berry) The X1 uses the same the platform as the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, and inherits many of its good practicality points. (image credit: Richard Berry)
  • Even at 191cm tall I can sit behind my driving position with about 30mm knee room to spare. (image credit: Richard Berry) Even at 191cm tall I can sit behind my driving position with about 30mm knee room to spare. (image credit: Richard Berry)

All X1s come fitted with the 'xLine' package which adds Pearl Dark and Peal Chrome trim elements, and aluminium door sills.

At 4439mm long, 2060mm wide (with mirrors) and 1598mm tall, the X1 is 79mm longer end-to-end than the X2, about the same width, and 70mm taller. So yes, the dimensions - exterior and interior - show that even though the X2 sits higher in the SUV line-up, the X1 is bigger in size.

An M Sport package can be optioned for $3000 and adds a tough-looking body kit with side skirts and a more aggressive front bumper, plus adaptive dampers and sport seats.

Only two paint colours are no-cost options – 'Alpine White' and black, but both look great. Metallic paint will cost you $1547, but ticking that box unlocks more colours such as 'Sunset Orange', 'Mediterranean Blue', 'Atlantic Grey', 'Sparkling Brown' and 'Glacier Silver', but no red.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

Now we’re talking. The X1 uses the same the platform as the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer which is a mini people mover and inherits many of its good practicality points. That’s one of the reasons why the X1 has more head and legroom in the front and back than an X3.

Even at 191cm tall I can sit behind my driving position with about 30mm knee room to spare and could wear a top hat at the same time.

  • The X1’s cargo capacity falls short of the X3’s by 45 litres at 505 litres. (image credit: Richard Berry) The X1’s cargo capacity falls short of the X3’s by 45 litres at 505 litres. (image credit: Richard Berry)
  • A Merc GLA has far less boot space at 421 litres, and the Audi Q3’s luggage capacity is 460 litres. (image credit: Richard Berry) A Merc GLA has far less boot space at 421 litres, and the Audi Q3’s luggage capacity is 460 litres. (image credit: Richard Berry)

Okay, boot space dimensions. The X1’s cargo capacity falls short of the X3’s by 45 litres at 505 litres, but that’s 35 litres more than the boot size of the X2. A Merc GLA has far less boot space at 421 litres, and the Audi Q3’s luggage capacity is 460 litres.

Storage throughout the cabin is great with two cupholders in the back and two up front, large bottle holders in the doors, fold-out storage in the back row and a tray under the centre armrest in the front.

If you have small children or you’re not the gymnast you used to be you’ll like the ride height of the X1 – it’s not sky-high like many large SUVs and you’re not sitting on the ground; you almost walk in and shut the door.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

Remember the pricing and how the features didn’t seem to match the dollars? Well here’s where a lot of your money goes – drivetrains. Oh, and by the way, the ‘s’ in sDrive means the SUV is front-wheel drive while the ‘x’ xDrive means, yes, it’s an AWD.

The sDrive18i has a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine and makes 103kW/220Nm. Shifting gears is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. BMW says the 0-100km/h ‘sprint’ takes a leisurely 9.6 seconds.

The xDrive25i has a 2.0-litre turbo four cylinder that’s been dialled up to make 170kW/350Nm. (image credit: Richard Berry) The xDrive25i has a 2.0-litre turbo four cylinder that’s been dialled up to make 170kW/350Nm. (image credit: Richard Berry)

The sDrive18d is the diesel version of the 18i and its 2.0-litre four cylinder makes 110kW/330Nm. According to BMW 0-100km/h arrives in a slightly brisker 9.2 seconds. An eight-speed traditional auto shifts more smoothly but slower than the dual clutch.

The sDrive20i has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine making 141kW/280Nm, using the same seven-speed dual clutch as the 18i. The 20i is noticeably quicker with a 0-100km/h time of 7.6 seconds.

Want something faster, more powerful and AWD? The xDrive25i also has a 2.0-litre turbo four cylinder but it’s been dialled up to make 170kW/350Nm and is more than a second quicker to 100km/h than the 20i at 6.5 seconds. Shifting gears is BMW’s eight-speed sport automatic.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Well it depends how you drive it, but officially BMW says the 18i uses 5.4L/100km, the diesel 18d is the most frugal at 4.7L/100km, while the 20i is thirstier at 6.2L/100km and the 25i is (as expected) even more so at 6.6L/100km.

When we drove the 18d our mainly urban use saw the trip computer reporting an average 10.6L/100km, while the top-of-the-range 25i used an average of 12.1L/100km in a week of city-centric duties.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   6/10

The X1 scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2015. You’ll find the usual traction and stability controls, plus a suite of airbags, as well as lane departure and forward collision warning.

But it doesn’t come with AEB or other advanced safety equipment such as blind spot warning and rear-cross traffic alert. This is a weakness for the X1, because this type of technology is becoming common place.

For child and baby car seats there are three top-tether anchor points and two ISOFIX mounts in the second row.

The X1 has run-flat tyres, meaning no spare tyre, but you’ll need to make a bee-line to the nearest tyre centre to replace the tyre.

Where is the X1 built? The X1 is made in Germany at BMW’s Leipzig plant.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   6/10

The X1 is covered by BMW’s three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Condition based servicing and maintenance means your X1 will tell you when it needs a check-up. Owners can purchase a servicing package. The 'Basic' package costs $1340 while the 'Plus' package is $2500 more.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

You could pick any of these X1s to take home and you’ll be happy with the driving experience. From the 18i to the 25i the ride is comfortable and composed, but the performance varies depending on which grade you’re piloting.

The 18d’s diesel engine is a bit noisy, but the cabin insulation cuts most of the clatter out. The 18d's tyres grip well in the corners, but while the steering feels smooth and accurate, it lacks road feel, and that goes for all X1s and many BMWs in general. Still, all X1s are engaging and easy to drive.

Does the 18d feel like it lacks grunt? Nope, 330Nm is heaps. It’s a shame we don’t get the 18d in AWD. Our steep test hill saw the 18d struggle to maintain traction under hard accleration, while the all-paw 25i powered up with no wheel spinning.

The 25i is the performance pick, that engine and eight-speed transmission are perfectly suited. (image credit: Richard Berry) The 25i is the performance pick, that engine and eight-speed transmission are perfectly suited. (image credit: Richard Berry)

The 20i like the 18i and 18d is front-wheel drive only, but unless you’re accelerating hard uphill or in the wet from a standstill you're not likely to notice.

All X1s have hill start assist which will stop you from rolling back on steep gradients.

The 25i is the performance pick, that engine and eight-speed transmission are perfectly suited.

A turning circle (radius) of 11.4m is about par for the small SUV course.

A ground clearance of 183mm gives it an extra 20mm over say a BMW 3 Series, which is just enough to get you places a sedan would fear to tread.

What’s the X1’s wading depth? Wait, what? Where are you thinking of taking it? If you must ford a river (please try to find a bridge instead), the wading depth of the X1 is 250mm.

Please keep in mind that although the X1 is an SUV, and the xDrive25i is an AWD, the off-road capability is really limited to dirt and gravel roads.

Verdict

The X1 is a small, sensible, practical member of BMW’s SUV family – it’s also the most affordable and the value for money is good. But don’t worry, the X1 is a real BMW, right down to the driving dynamics and craftmanship.

The sweet spot in the X1 range is actually the entry grade sDrive18i as it comes with nearly all the features you'll see on the rest for a lot less money.

The X1 is up against some tough competition. Would you choose a Mercedes-Benz GLA or Audi Q3 over an X1? Tell us what you think in the comments below. 

Pricing guides

$62,990
Based on 148 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$36,887
Highest Price
$149,900

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
X5 M 4.4L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $114,300 – 144,540 2018 BMW X Models 2018 X5 M Pricing and Specs
X5 M Black Fire Edition 4.4L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $143,100 – 180,950 2018 BMW X Models 2018 X5 M Black Fire Edition Pricing and Specs
X2 M35I 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP $49,600 – 62,700 2018 BMW X Models 2018 X2 M35I Pricing and Specs
X3 M40I 3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $66,900 – 84,590 2018 BMW X Models 2018 X3 M40I Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6.9
Price and features7
Design7
Practicality8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Safety6
Ownership6
Driving7
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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