BMW X1 long term test: report 2

Our chief photographer needs a practical car that can cope with heavy lifting during the week, but knows how to have fun after working hours. Does the BMW X1 deliver?...

BMW X1 2023 long-term cleaning wheels

The car BMW X1 xDrive23i MHT M Sport Run by John Bradshaw, chief photographer

Why it’s here To see if this premium family SUV can cut it as a workhorse from Monday to Friday and an entertainer at the weekend

Needs to Carry heavy, bulky equipment all over the country while being comfy, safe, economical, and fun on the right road

Mileage 1896 List price £41,470 Target Price £40,663 Price as tested £47,495 Test economy 38.2mpg Official economy 42.2mpg 

18 March 2023 – These boots were made for...

My BMW X1’s 20in alloy wheels are a bit like a really proper set of hiking boots. On a walk in the countryside, those who know about such things will nod approvingly; “this person’s got the right kit and doesn’t cut corners”, they might think. Little do they know, though, that I can’t wait to get home and take my vast, inflexible clodhoppers off in favour of a nice comfy pair of slippers.

In a lot of ways, those wheels are just right for the job. They're a bit of a swine to clean, but it's worth the effort because I think they look great; thus equipped, the X1 is a very purposeful-looking machine after the rather more sensible-shoes Honda CR-V I ran previously.

BMW X1 2023 long-term at the wheel

Naturally, the X1’s wheels are wrapped by suitably huge tyres, too, and lots of rubber in contact with the road means plenty of grip in corners. It’s no surprise, then, that the X1 feels much more eager to take corners than the CR-V, while its relative lack of body lean means it inspires greater confidence on a twisty road. I’m enjoying how responsive the X1’s petrol engine is, too, and how alert the gearbox is when I need a burst of acceleration.

On the other hand, I wish the X1 was a bit more… fun. I was hoping it would entertain like the Ford Puma I ran a year ago, but while it's agile and precise, the X1 doesn’t get me giggling. Nor does it balance cornering prowess and comfort as well as the Jaguar E-Pace I once had; the X1’s sporty tyres don’t do much to help absorb bumps, emphasising the car’s firm ride and making potholes and scruffy surfaces all the more noticeable. 

BMW X1 2023 long-term iX1 side-by-side

Interestingly, I recently went for a spin in the X1’s all-electric stablemate, the BMW iX1, in entry-level xLine trim, and I found that much comfier to travel in. That’s partly, I suspect, due to its smaller 19in wheels, but the Comfort mode of that car’s adaptive suspension felt noticeably more pliant than the same mode in my car, which has a similar suspension set-up.

I love my hiking boots, but I wish they were a bit less uncompromising.

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