I’ll be totally honest with you… I didn’t like the old BMW X1. The baby SUV always felt at odds to the rest of the BMW range as it lacked that involving feel that every other model possesses, even the big X5. I also didn’t think much of its interior design or the rather unappetising exterior. Being presented with the keys to the all-new 2016 BMW X1 started a domino effect that would lead me to rather liking this latest incarnation. Here is how the X1 has come of age.
No longer does this car look like a 1 Series on stilts, instead this new X1 very much has an identity of its own. Clean creases along the body promotes a sense of fluidity along its length without looking fussy. Raked headlights sit either side of that synonymous kidney grill giving a more assertive tone to the front. The belt line rises toward the rear where the car has developed broader proportions. In Black Sapphire with exterior trim in gloss black, our 2016 BMW X1 presents itself as a mature premium SUV.
The design revolution continues inside as material quality takes a step forward. Scratchy plastics have been removed and interesting design details such as red trim in this test car contrasts the black. Comfortable red stitched leather seats hold you in place and present to you that much desired high driving position. Option BMW’s iDrive infotainment system and you will get a widescreen display controlled by a scroll wheel and touchpad. The intuitive system is easy to use and has to be one of the best in-car navigation experiences on the market. Its three rearmost seats offer good head and leg room for the outer occupants, but the middle post is a bit narrow for adults. That said, a low transmission tunnel makes it more usable. These seats can slide forwards and backwards, as well as recline. Rear visibility isn’t bad but a reversing camera can make life easier. The boot offers 505 litres of space which is ideal for family life. Its shape makes loading items easy and this area also offers underfloor storage.
Under the bonnet of this X1 you will find a 2.0 litre diesel with 188 BHP. Being an xDrive model means that it has all wheel drive, which considering some of the less than favourable weather the UK has been receiving, might be a good choice. 400Nm of torque is guided to the ground and aids in responsive outputs from the engine. Noise from said engine is minimal unless under load. Refinement levels in general are high as the X1 feels like a quality product every mile you drive it. The 20d is going to be the strongest seller for this model and it is easy to see why. Around town the compact size of the 2016 X1 makes it no trouble to drive. Hitting the motorway and some wind noise makes itself known, but overall this car is a comfortable cruiser for all occupants. Option the adaptable suspension and you are free to choose how the car reacts to our rutted British roads. For me the big test was how it would deal with more dynamic roads as this was the deal breaker for the old car. I am pleased to report that the BMW magic has been baked into this 2016 BMW X1 with steering that is direct and well weighted. You can accurately place this SUV on the apex of a corner at speed whilst body roll is kept at bay. It could do with a bit more feedback, but with todays modern electromechanical steering, that seems to be the case across the board. The chassis as a complete package is very commendable. The all wheel drive system adds a sense of security and stability when the road surface is greasy or wet. Gear changes in our test were taken care of by an 8 speed automatic transmission. You are likely all bored to death of how I always mention how good this auto is at swapping cogs in BMW products, but it simply is one of the best on the market. Pull on a paddle and the change is swift and totally incognito. With a 0-62 MPH time of 7.3 seconds, it is brisk enough to hold its own both around town and on the motorway. BMW claims 57.6 MPG whilst emitting 127g/km CO2.
This new car is one we would happily recommend, but like all luxury German models, be wary of the options list. You can have this X3 for £33,680 but our test car came to £42,795. The 2016 BMW X1 has transformed from the black sheep of the showroom into a highly polished SUV. Obviously our expectations are high when judging a car from such a prestigious brand and that is primarily why the old X1 disappointed. This latest incarnation we like very much.