2013 BMW X1 review

  • Face-lifted X1 SUV driven in the UK
  • On sale now, priced from £24,660
  • All rear-wheel-drive models now sub-130g/km CO2
BMW X1
BMW X1
The BMW X1 has been given a mid-life update to help it compete with newer rivals such as Audi's classy Q3 and the super-efficient Mazda CX-5.

On the outside, some of the plastic body cladding has been ditched in favour of more upmarket body-coloured panels, plus you get new LED headlights, new alloy wheels and a more prominent rear underguard.

The changes continue in the cabin, where some of the materials have been upgraded and there's a more driver-focused centre console design.

However, the most significant work has been done under the bonnet; every X1 – except the recently introduced Efficient Dynamics edition – gets engine tweaks that help reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

In addition, all X1s now come with a new Eco Pro mode that adjusts the throttle responses and the behaviour of the climate control and automatic gearbox (where fitted) to help maximise efficiency.

What's the 2012 BMW X1 like to drive?
We've already driven the range-topping four-wheel-drive xDrive25d model on European roads, but this was our first chance to try the car in the UK.

Like its predecessor, the 25d uses BMW's twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel engine, but power has risen from 201bhp to 215bhp, while average fuel economy is up from 47.1mpg to 47.9mpg and CO2 emissions down from 158g/km to 154g/km – enough to drop the new model one company car tax band.

The 25d is deceptively quick because its engine delivers its power extremely progressively; the turbos work sequentially, and the smaller of the two features variable geometry to further improve flexibility.

Our car was also helped by the fact it was fitted with the optional eight-speed automatic gearbox, which shifts smoothly and intelligently.

The auto now gets stop-start technology as standard (previously this was available only with the standard six-speed manual), so it's even more efficient than the manual car, averaging 51.4mpg and emitting just 145g/km of CO2.

BMW X1

The composure shown by the X1 on twisty roads is equally impressive. Unfortunately, the steering is overly heavy around town, before becoming rather inconsistently weighted at higher speeds, undermining your confidence in the car.

The X1 is pretty good at shutting out wind and road noise, and the 25d engine is smooth at a steady cruise. However, it can become a little intrusive when you push on, and you have to put up with an unsettled ride.

Unlike the other models in the line-up, the 25d is available only with four-wheel drive to help transfer its considerable power to the road cleanly.

What's the 2012 BMW X1 like inside?
The dashboard is logically laid out and it features smarter-looking materials than before, although they're still not as classy as the ones you find in the Audi Q3 or other BMW models.

BMW X1

The driving position is harder to fault (at least it is in the automatic car we tried) and all-round visibility is good.

However, the X1 is really only a four-seater because the wide transmission tunnel makes life very uncomfortable if you have three across the rear bench.

The boot is a decent size, even if its 420-litre capacity is down on some of its rivals, plus the rear seats fold flat, leaving you with 1350 litres.

Every X1 comes with dual-zone climate control, aux-in and USB sockets, Bluetooth connectivity, rear parking sensors and electric windows, front and rear.

BMW X1

M Sport models bring sportier styling and handling, plus there's a new Sport trim for those who want a sporty look that's a little less aggressive. The xLine trim we tried gives the X1 a more rugged appearance.

Should I buy one?
The revised X1 is a slightly classier car than its predecessor, and it now has an even bigger advantage over its main rival, the Audi Q3, when it comes to efficiency. However, it's let down by inconsistent steering and an unsettled ride.

If you can afford the higher running costs, the Q3 is a better car.

Read the full BMW X1 review >>



Rivals:
Audi Q3
Mazda CX-5

What Car? says…


Mark Pearson and Steve Huntingford

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