BMW X1 long term test: report 3

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 test France visit

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 2546 List price £41,470 Target Price £40,663 Price as tested £47,495 Test economy 37.5mpg Official economy 42.2mpg 

13 April 2023 – Handling with kid gloves

My BMW X1, like any car that enters my custody, faces a punishing regime of impromptu long trips laden with enough camera equipment to keep Jessops in business for a pretty long time. However, with my own offspring having flown the nest many years ago, it made sense to tender out the business of seeing how this family SUV deals with the spillages and rattles of life with little'uns.

My colleague, picture editor Ben, was the perfect candidate, and his very young son, Matis, knows exactly how to get the mettle of a motor car. A trip to Bretigny Sur Orge, Southwest Paris, to visit relatives, provided just the challenge. From the grin on his face and his cheerful gurgles, it can be deduced that Matis was a very happy passenger, and now it's over to Ben for a detailed report.

BMW X1 2023 long-term test baby seat

"The first task was to get Matis's seat securely installed, and not only are the X1's Isofix mounting points easy to access, but the way the second row can slide rearwards for extra passenger space meant the seat could be installed with room to spare, and without the front-seat passenger having to slide their chair forward.

"Matis seemed transfixed by his view through the X1's panoramic glass roof, but I'm not sure I can vouch for how the Alcantara seat fabric will fare with prolonged exposure to Cow & Gate baby foods.

BMW X1 2023 long-term test loading buggy

"Sliding the second row forwards does have a marked effect on bootspace, though; by the time the baby buggy is in, there's not a lot of room for anything else. We could have done with a dog guard so we could rest things on top of the buggy without the risk of them flying forwards under braking.

"The view from the driving seat is good; the top of the dashboard seems lower than it is in some cars, so forward visibility is great. That, combined with the surround view cameras, helped me no end when boarding Le Shuttle, minimising the risk of catching the alloy wheels on the metal platforms that run the length of the train.

BMW X1 2023 long-term test rest stop

"As soon as we got off Le Shuttle and onto the mirror-smooth French roads, the jarring craters of the M20 in Kent were quickly forgotten. On the fast autoroutes, the BMW X1 whispers along, with Matis lulled to sleep by the car's gentle motions.  

"My partner, Flore, sat in the back to be with Matis, and she had plenty of space behind me. She was impressed by how much light fills the interior, not just from that glass roof, but also through the big side windows – despite their tinted privacy glass.

BMW X1 2023 long-term test brand enthusiast

"When we arrived in Paris my partner's mother – who has had an X1 on order for more than a year – was keen to be taken through some of the features. Currently a BMW 2 Series Coupé owner, she was surprised that BMW has moved away from the rotary iDrive infotainment controller (the X1's system is touchscreen only), but found its menus quite logically laid out and intuitive to learn. And it was handy that there's somewhere to rest your hand while using a thumb or index finger to prod at icons"

So, Ben gave my BMW X1 a thumbs up as a family workhorse, but the nappies have now been replaced by Nikons and it has reassumed its life as a photographer's steed. A thorough test, then – and I didn't even have to vacuum up any crumbs. 

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