We drove the revised BMW X1 a while back at its international launch in top-spec '25d' format, which of course nobody will buy here. The updated car has arrived on Irish shores and we've driven the entry-level four-wheel drive model, the xDrive18d. It's cheaper than the equivalent 3 Series Touring, so is it the obvious choice?
Inside & Out: 4/5
We acknowledge that you need to see the old model and the new together to realise how much sharper the latest X1 is, but the tweaks do give the baby BMW SUV more presence. Just make sure you opt for one of the trim lines that give it decent wheels and trimmings such as this Sport model. See all that gloss black plastic? That's what we mean. It works well on this test car as it contrasts with the white paint.
Some aspects of the X1's interior are greatly improved, notably the materials used throughout, bringing the car in line with the rest of the BMW line-up. However, the instruments and ignition key and a few other bits and pieces feel quite 'last generation' next to the latest 3 Series. Sport spec brightens things up with a chunky stitched leather steering wheel and sports seats with loads of adjustment. There's plenty of space for four adults too, though a high transmission tunnel restricts legroom for the middle rear passenger. Those back seats split and fold flat easily if you need to get in big loads.
Engine & Transmission: 4/5
It's difficult to fault BMW's diesel engines in terms of performance and efficiency. The '18d' model is the second rung on the diesel X1 ladder (and the entry-level model with four-wheel drive) and its 143hp and 320Nm of torque are ample. Performance could never be called sparkling though. Go for the much quicker '20d' version if that's important to you. More worryingly, the 2.0-litre engine is gruff and all too audible - even at a cruise.
Our test car was equipped with BMW's excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox (at a cost of over €2,000) and it's a good partner for the diesel engine. If you're in more of a hurry it's easy to slot it into Sport mode for quicker shifts and use of more of the engine's power band.
Ride & Handling: 3/5
The BMW X1 always drove more like an estate car with increased ride height than a true SUV and that characteristic remains. On a twisty road it makes an impressive account of itself too. However, as that's not likely to be of high priority to the car's buyer (stick to an estate if it is) we'd gladly trade some of that body control and cornering ability for a touch more comfort. It's not hard-edged exactly, but it's firm enough to bounce around a little on certain surfaces. And for some reason the power assisted steering system is just too heavy. Only when up to speed does it feel right. Odd.
Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: 3.5/5
Our test car was comprehensively equipped so we need to pick through what's included to ascertain its value for money quotient. As standard there's Bluetooth, air conditioning, front fog lights, aux-in connectivity, one-touch electric windows all-round and loads of dynamic and passive safety equipment. It's worth upgrading to one of the lines such as Sport for the image enhancements though.
The official combined cycle consumption figure for this model is 5.4 litres/100km (52.3mpg), though we only managed an average of 7.3 litres/100km (38.7mpg) over nearly 500 kilometres of mostly high-speed motorway driving. If you like the X1 but don't care so much about four-wheel drive it's worth checking out the sDrive20d EfficientDynamics Edition instead, which has more power, lower emissions and better fuel economy.