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BMW X1 2023 review

EXPERT RATING
8.3
One of the earliest examples of a premium small SUV, the original X1 of 2010 established BMW as a canny marketer, but the model never won the acclaim of newer alternatives. Now, the completely redesigned third-generation U11-series X1 aims to change this, with a longer and wider platform, larger body, advanced powertrains and innovative cabin promising more space, refinement and agility.

Being first isn't always best. Case in point: the BMW X1.

The earliest, the E84, beat most to the emerging premium small SUV/crossover market, and was basically a rebodied and higher-riding version of the contemporary E91 3 Series wagon. But it felt cramped and brittle riding and the cabin quality was under par for the brand.

The second X1, meanwhile, was the first BMW SUV to go front-wheel drive in 2015, so was well packaged, good looking and popular, but faced stiff opposition that made it seem expensive and was dull to drive.

    Now there's a third generation, brandishing a full redesign inside and out, and it's even larger than before.

    So, is the 2023 U11-series X1 good enough to take on the big-selling Volvo XC40, Mercedes-Benz GLA and Audi Q3? Let's find out.

    BMW X Models 2023: X1 Sdrive18I
    Safety rating
    Engine Type1.5L turbo
    Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
    Fuel Efficiency6.5L/100km
    Seating5 seats
    Price from$57,090

    Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

    For now, only two versions of the new X1 are launching, but come early next year, the fully electric iX1 will join the range. And that should be interesting.

    Sticking with internal combustion engines for the time being, the X1 sDrive18i kicks off from $53,900 before on-road costs, or – for another $12,000 – the xDrive20i from $65,900.

    The sDrive18i uses a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine to drive the front wheels, while the 20i scores a 2.0-litre four-cylinder version with all-wheel drive.

    The sDrive18i includes 18-inch alloy wheels. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured) The sDrive18i includes 18-inch alloy wheels. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured)

    While both see price jumps of over 10 per cent compared to before, they're also shockingly well-equipped for a BMW.

    Adding to the old F48 X1's standard automatic transmission, artificial leather upholstery, embedded satellite navigation, a reverse camera, DAB+ digital radio, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, wireless phone charging, roof rails and 18-inch alloy wheels, the base grade now includes keyless entry/start, sports seats, a 10.7-inch multimedia touchscreen, a 10.25-inch instrument cluster, ‘Hey, BMW!' voice control, a head-up display, GPS with augmented reality view, dual-zone climate control, adaptive LED headlights, a powered tailgate, adaptive cruise control, automatic parking assist and a blind-spot monitor.

    The latter joins a decent upgrade in safety, that also runs to a substantially beefed-up body structurally, front, side, curtain and front-centre airbags, improved autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with day/night pedestrian and cyclist detection, secondary collision avoidance braking, lane-departure warning and assist systems, speed assist tech like adaptive cruise control, stability and traction controls, anti-lock brakes with brake-assist and a drowsy driver alert.

    Meanwhile, the xDrive20i ushers in AWD, 19-inch alloys, additional driving assistance with steering and lane-control intervention and heated and electrically-adjustable front seats.

    The xDrive20i ushers in AWD, 19-inch alloys. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured) The xDrive20i ushers in AWD, 19-inch alloys. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured)

    BMW is on a simplification kick, so key options are now bundled together. The Enhancement pack includes a panoramic sunroof, metallic paint, audio upgrade, electric front seats and sliding rear seats for between $4000 and $6000, and an M Sport pack on 20i for $3000, with an M body kit, alloys and Adaptive M Suspension that drops the ride height 15mm (from 205mm of ground clearance) and features adaptive dampers.

    The upshot? In this latest X1, it's no longer necessary to bypass the base model for access to equipment that others have long included for the price.

    Seriously, this aggressive value move is progress from a BMW, especially when you also consider the brand's improved warranty. More on that later.

    2023 BMW X Models

    Explore the 2023 BMW X Models range

    Is there anything interesting about its design?   9/10

    Riding on an all-new platform, according to BMW, has allowed for a significantly larger vehicle than the one it replaces.

    Length comes in at 4500mm (+53mm), width is 1845mm (+24mm), height is 1642mm (+44mm) and the 2692mm wheelbase has grown by 22mm.

    Plus, the body's styling has gone into a fresh direction for the brand. As a result, the design breathes better, making this one of the most handsome SUVs in BMW's armoury.

    • Larger in every direction, the third-generation BMW X1 is now almost as big as the first X3 of 2008. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured) Larger in every direction, the third-generation BMW X1 is now almost as big as the first X3 of 2008. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured)
    • Length comes in at 4500mm (+53mm), width is 1845mm (+24mm), height is 1642mm (+44mm) and the 2692mm wheelbase has grown by 22mm. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured) Length comes in at 4500mm (+53mm), width is 1845mm (+24mm), height is 1642mm (+44mm) and the 2692mm wheelbase has grown by 22mm. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured)

    Starting from the front, the nose is bigger and more upright as per every other new-release BMW SUV, with the massive kidney-shaped grilles dominating, but somehow it gets away with looking friendlier.

    Clean, taut surfacing helps cut drag, for better aerodynamics, while that wheelbase stretch improves the BMW's proportions as well as its interior packaging. The bigger and boxier rear connects visually with the flagship iX EV, and that's no bad thing, with the design overall being peppered with striking details.

    Progressive yet unexpectedly pretty in the flesh, the X1 should sell on looks alone.

    • The body’s styling has gone into a fresh direction for the brand. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured) The body’s styling has gone into a fresh direction for the brand. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured)
    • As a result, the design breathes better, making this one of the most handsome SUVs in BMW’s armoury. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured) As a result, the design breathes better, making this one of the most handsome SUVs in BMW’s armoury. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured)
    • Clean, taut surfacing helps cut drag, for better aerodynamics, while that wheelbase stretch improves the BMW’s proportions as well as its interior packaging. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured) Clean, taut surfacing helps cut drag, for better aerodynamics, while that wheelbase stretch improves the BMW’s proportions as well as its interior packaging. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured)

    How practical is the space inside?   9/10

    It's fair to say the new X1 is roomy enough to have some people think twice about spending more on its bigger X3 or even X5 siblings.

    Again, inspired by the iX EV, there's new thinking going on inside, for what is essentially a regular and very mainstream BMW product, making the X1's cabin presentation one of its strongest assets.

    Entry and egress are aided by large doors that open up wide, before sinking into body-hugging front seats that provide great location for an excellent driving position as well as long-distance comfort and support.

    • The X1’s cabin presentation is one of its strongest assets. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured) The X1’s cabin presentation is one of its strongest assets. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured)
    • The X1’s dash is dominated by a large, bendy rectangular binnacle BMW calls its Curved Display, that houses two screens. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured) The X1’s dash is dominated by a large, bendy rectangular binnacle BMW calls its Curved Display, that houses two screens. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured)
    • It comes with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured) It comes with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured)
    • Again, inspired by the iX EV, there’s new thinking going on inside, for what is essentially a regular and very mainstream BMW product. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured) Again, inspired by the iX EV, there’s new thinking going on inside, for what is essentially a regular and very mainstream BMW product. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured)

    The latest X1's initial and lasting impression is a sense of space, thanks to the generous glass area, slimline horizontal dash presentation, reduced switchgear and lack of bulk – though we must point out that most of the vehicles driven during the launch were fitted with a panoramic sunroof that really opened up the cabin.

    But even without that option, the U11 is a million miles removed from the E84 original... with flair to match.

    Case in point: the X1's dash is dominated by a large, bendy rectangular binnacle BMW calls its Curved Display, that houses two screens – a 10.25-inch item in front of the driver that houses all the digital instrumentation (and is supported by the standard-fitment head-up display), as well as a 10.7-inch multimedia touchscreen. It's all very EV-esque, and probably designed this way for the iX1.

    The latter is how the trick new BMW Operating System 8 is accessed, and features fast, intuitive access to the entertainment, vehicle information and vehicle settings systems, as well as the climate controls. It's all electronic and voice controlled – though, as usual, the tech can be hit and miss still.

    Some purists may lament the end of the BMW iDrive controller, but it's also allowed for a big shake up with the lower-centre console area that features a floating armrest design with a control panel housing a new rocker-switch style gear selector and driving modes.

    • BMW is on a simplification kick, so key options are now bundled together. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured) BMW is on a simplification kick, so key options are now bundled together. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured)
    • Entry and egress are aided by large doors that open up wide, before sinking into body-hugging front seats that provide great location for an excellent driving position. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured) Entry and egress are aided by large doors that open up wide, before sinking into body-hugging front seats that provide great location for an excellent driving position. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured)

    Kudos to the interior designers, too, for creating a smartphone charger that allows the device to be upright and so more easily and safety glanced at.

    It's all about reductionism and freedom from buttons and levers.

    Reflecting the exterior design, our German-built SUV's interior features a pleasing degree of interesting shapes and textured finishes, amping up the premium ambience while – in most cases anyway – enhancing the user experience.

    That said, the X1's role is to be a family SUV, and so it does have most practicality aspects covered, with the aforementioned space, ample ventilation, plenty of storage and good all-round vision.

    Stepping into the rear seat, there's sufficient clearance for most heads, shoulders, knees and legs, and most amenities are present, including ventilation outlets, USB ports and cupholders. Backrest and cushion \ are about what you'd expect, meaning firm yet comfy, and that sliding rear seat would be a boon for parental access to children strapped into baby or booster seats. An option worth considering.

    • Like the rest of the X1, boot space has grown in all directions, meaning capacity jumps from 505L (with second row seats upright) to 540L. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured) Like the rest of the X1, boot space has grown in all directions, meaning capacity jumps from 505L (with second row seats upright) to 540L. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured)
    • Boot space increases from 1550L to 1600L (VDA) with the seats folded down. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured) Boot space increases from 1550L to 1600L (VDA) with the seats folded down. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured)

    Finally, there's the cargo area, which is now within 10 litres of an X3's. Like the rest of the X1, it's grown in all directions, meaning capacity jumps from 505L (with second row seats upright) to 540L, or 1550L to 1600L (VDA) with them folded down.

    Aiding the bigger boot is the lack of a spare tyre, with just a tyre repair kit fitted. Some buyers won't like the sound of that at all.

    To sum up, then, the X1 may be a small SUV, but it's now quite large inside.

    What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

    If you're familiar with the previous X1, you might think that the petrol engines are carryovers from before.

    Actually, they're 90 per cent new or improved, according to BMW, for slightly more power and better efficiencies than before.

    For the record, the 1500kg sDrive18i's B38 1499cc 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol unit pumps out 115kW of power at 6500rpm and 230Nm of torque between 1500-4600rpm, for measurably stronger acceleration.

    The 1500kg sDrive18i’s B38 1499cc 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol unit pumps out 115kW of power at 6500rpm and 230Nm of torque between 1500-4600rpm. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured) The 1500kg sDrive18i’s B38 1499cc 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol unit pumps out 115kW of power at 6500rpm and 230Nm of torque between 1500-4600rpm. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured)

    With a power-to-weight ratio of 76.7kW per tonne, it slashes 0.6 seconds off the proceeding version's 0-100km/h sprint time, down to 9.0s flat, on the way to a 215km/h top speed.

    The 1595kg xDrive20i's B48 1998cc 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, meanwhile, delivers 150kW at a peaky 6500rpm and 300Nm between 1450-4500rpm; with a power-to-weight ratio of 94kW/t, it needs just 7.4s to reach 100km/h before maxing out at 233km/h. That's considered warn-hatch performance levels.

    Both engines employ a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission – with the larger one including paddle shifters ¬– to help with fast throttle responses.

    The 1595kg xDrive20i’s B48 1998cc 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, meanwhile, delivers 150kW at a peaky 6500rpm and 300Nm between 1450-4500rpm. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured) The 1595kg xDrive20i’s B48 1998cc 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, meanwhile, delivers 150kW at a peaky 6500rpm and 300Nm between 1450-4500rpm. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured)

    In the sDrive18i, drive is sent to the front wheels only, while the xDrive20i has an electronic all-wheel drive system that engages the rear wheels when greater traction is required.

    Suspension is via MacPherson-style struts up front and an independent three-link design out back. Choosing the optional adaptive M suspension with variable damper settings also brings a variable-ratio set-up to the rack-and-pinion steering system.

    How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

    Not even BMW's vaunted engineering boffins can make a car that's substantially larger and at least 70kg heavier than before consume less fuel, which means the latest sDrive18i uses slightly more petrol, at 6.5L/100km.

    Similarly, today's xDrive20i AWD is thirstier than its indirect FWD equivalent, weighing well over 100kg more. It returns a still-respectable 7.2L/100km.

    Note, however, that all X1s have a taste for more-expensive 95 RON premium unleaded. Nearly 695km between refills of a 45L tank is possible in the sDrive18i, or just 608km in the thirstier xDrive20i.

    Finally, if you're hankering for a diesel version, you're plum out of luck. It's petrol, electricity, or nothing for this generation of X1.

    What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   9/10

    Euro NCAP has awarded the U11 X1 series a five-star rating in October, 2022, and a similar result is expected from ANCAP in the near future.

    Being such a fresh design, BMW has included many of the latest safety features, improved autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with day/night pedestrian and cyclist detection (but no rear AEB), secondary collision avoidance braking, a blind-spot monitor, lane-departure warning and assist systems, speed assist tech like adaptive cruise control, stability and traction controls, anti-lock brakes with brake-assist and a drowsy driver alert.

    Improved structural strength and rigidity are further highlights.

    Euro NCAP has awarded the U11 X1 series a five-star rating in October, 2022, and a similar result is expected from ANCAP in the near future. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured) Euro NCAP has awarded the U11 X1 series a five-star rating in October, 2022, and a similar result is expected from ANCAP in the near future. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured)

    The front-seat occupants of an X1 face frontal airbags and have side chest and side pelvis airbag protection, while outboard rear-seat occupants have side head airbags (also called curtain airbags) coverage.

    ISOFIX child-seat latches are fitted to outboard rear seat positions, while a trio of top tethers for straps are included across the back bench.

    Note that BMW'S AEB system is operational from 5km/h, the lane support systems start from 60km/h and the driver monitoring system kicks in from 70km/h.

    Warranty & Safety Rating

    Basic Warranty

    5 years / unlimited km warranty

    ANCAP Safety Rating

    ANCAP logo

    What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

    At last! BMW has just introduced a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with all its products, backdated to October 1, 2022.

    That's great news for a brand that's really dragged its feet compared to pretty much every other carmaker selling cars in Australia.

    At last! BMW has just introduced a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with all its products, backdated to October 1, 2022. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured) At last! BMW has just introduced a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with all its products, backdated to October 1, 2022. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured)

    While there's no capped-price servicing, you can pre-purchase a number of service bundles, to help save a bit more money further down the track. Note, however, that roadside assistance remains at three years. Boo.

    Keep in mind, too, that BMW vehicles have a self-diagnosis feature that varies the service intervals according to how they're used as well as wear and tear. Our advice is to keep making an appointment annually or at about every 10,000km, just to be on the safe side.

    What's it like to drive?   8/10

    Righto. Now, the moment of truth.

    The old X1 was a little too Mini-like to drive, it just didn't have the BMW feel and dynamic prowess you expect from the brand. But this latest model does push out that envelope at last.

    Let's start with the sDrive18i. Despite featuring the B38 three-pot turbo petrol engine, it performs just like the four-cylinder version for all intents and purposes around town at low speeds. That's because of the way that it's been tuned, stepping off the line smartly, accelerating quickly and feeling surprisingly punchy.

    • Despite featuring the B38 three-pot turbo petrol engine, the sDrive18i performs just like the four-cylinder version for all intents and purposes around town at low speeds. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured) Despite featuring the B38 three-pot turbo petrol engine, the sDrive18i performs just like the four-cylinder version for all intents and purposes around town at low speeds. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured)
    • That’s because of the way that it’s been tuned, stepping off the line smartly, accelerating quickly and feeling surprisingly punchy. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured) That’s because of the way that it’s been tuned, stepping off the line smartly, accelerating quickly and feeling surprisingly punchy. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured)
    • For most people, it should be fine. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured) For most people, it should be fine. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured)
    • While it doesn’t feel like a small engine in a heavy SUV in most scenarios, when you’re out on the open road and you need more oomph for overtaking you realise this engine is a wee-bit small. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured) While it doesn’t feel like a small engine in a heavy SUV in most scenarios, when you’re out on the open road and you need more oomph for overtaking you realise this engine is a wee-bit small. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured)
    • The old X1 was a little too Mini-like to drive, it just didn’t have the BMW feel and dynamic prowess you expect from the brand. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured) The old X1 was a little too Mini-like to drive, it just didn’t have the BMW feel and dynamic prowess you expect from the brand. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured)

    However, while it doesn't feel like a small engine in a heavy SUV in most scenarios, when you're out on the open road and you need more oomph for overtaking, you realise this engine is a wee-bit small. Still, for most people, it should be fine.

    Moving on to the xDrive2.0i with its AWD system, it is significantly stronger and faster across the board. The B48 four-pot turbo particularly shines out on the highway, spinning sweetly yet with real purpose. It's also smoother and quieter than the smaller unit.

    Whatever BMW it is in, the B48 always feels absolutely up to the brand's reputation for being a driver's machine. If you can stretch to it, this is the pick.

    The X1 is a more refined and sophisticated driving machine. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured) The X1 is a more refined and sophisticated driving machine. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i variant pictured)

    Now, being an X1 means appealing to a broad church of buyers, so it's never going to be a racy or firm or particularly challenging to drive. And as a result, the steering is light, soft and very easy. And for 99 per cent of people, that's all fine.

    The good thing is, if you're willing to spend a bit more to get one of the M Sport pack options, the variable ratio steering upgrade really does sharpen up the handling, while the M Adaptive suspension pack means it also both rides better when in regular mode and grips more keenly through twistier bits. There's now an X1 for everyone.

    • Moving on to the xDrive2.0i with its AWD system, it is significantly stronger and faster across the board. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured) Moving on to the xDrive2.0i with its AWD system, it is significantly stronger and faster across the board. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured)
    • The B48 four-pot turbo particularly shines out on the highway, spinning sweetly yet with real purpose. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured) The B48 four-pot turbo particularly shines out on the highway, spinning sweetly yet with real purpose. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured)
    • Whatever BMW it is in, the B48 always feels absolutely up to the brand’s reputation for being a driver’s machine. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured) Whatever BMW it is in, the B48 always feels absolutely up to the brand’s reputation for being a driver’s machine. (2023 BMW X1 sDrive20i variant pictured)

    Downsides? Bumpier roads do make for a busy ride, though it isn't as bad as in previous models, while there's a fair amount of tyre-noise intrusion coming through inside, particularly on our coarse bitumen roads.

    So, to sum up, the X1 is a more refined and sophisticated driving machine, as well as a more athletic one with the M Adaptive suspension pack.

    Verdict

    It should come as no surprise that the new X1 is better in most ways compared to the patchy previous model. After all, that's how automotive evolution works.

    But the really big news – and the biggest surprise here – is just how much better value the new X1 is. If you're in the market against the XC40, Q3 or Mercedes GLA, then this new kid on the block is definitely worth checking out – especially the xDrive20i. Plus, the interior is a knockout.

    It took three attempts, but finally BMW got its small SUV right.

    Pricing guides

    $132,900
    Based on 144 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
    Lowest Price
    $59,988
    Highest Price
    $198,900

    Range and Specs

    VehicleSpecsPrice*
    X1 Sdrive18I 1.5L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $57,090 – 65,670 2023 BMW X Models 2023 X1 Sdrive18I Pricing and Specs
    X1 Xdrive20I 2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $66,660 – 76,560 2023 BMW X Models 2023 X1 Xdrive20I Pricing and Specs
    X1 Xdrive20I M Sport 2.0L, PULP, 7 SP $69,410 – 79,750 2023 BMW X Models 2023 X1 Xdrive20I M Sport Pricing and Specs
    X2 M35I 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $69,410 – 79,750 2023 BMW X Models 2023 X2 M35I Pricing and Specs
    EXPERT RATING
    8.3
    Price and features8
    Design9
    Practicality9
    Under the bonnet9
    Efficiency7
    Safety9
    Ownership7
    Driving8
    Byron Mathioudakis
    Contributing Journalist

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    Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.