BMW X1 plug-in hybrid long-term test: report 1

The classy BMW X1 is one of our favourite family SUVs, but can the latest plug-in hybrid version still cut the mustard? We’re living with one to find out...

BMW X1 2021 right static

The car BMW X1 xDrive25e M Sport Run by Mark Pearson, used cars editor

Why it’s here To find out if this plug-in hybrid SUV can live up to its on-paper economy promise while taking on regular family motoring duties

Needs to Serve up a healthy dollop of practicality, efficiency and comfort, yet still be good fun to drive

Mileage 1007 Price £39,675 Target Price £38,695 Price as tested £44,740 Official economy 156.9mpg Test economy 99.0mpg Options fitted Mineral White paint (£560), Comfort pack 2 (£1000), Technology pack 1 (£900), Technology pack 2 (£1250), Luggage net (£150); Sun protection glass (£300)

26 April – Keeping it in the family

Some carmakers engender such respect among their customers that people buy their cars almost serially. BMW is one of those marques, and I offer as examples of customers my brother and two of my nephews.

Now, putting aside the question of family pride, I can see why that should be. I get to try a lot of BMWs in my trade of temptations and, although not blind to their faults, I usually come away impressed. That’s why when the time came for me to look for a family SUV, my thoughts went immediately to the suave X1. This second-generation version has impressed me for its quality, comfort and, more recently, impressive reliability record (it was the top family SUV in our most recent What Car? Reliability Survey).

I was also conscious that we’re edging closer towards the electric future. Though I count myself among those not yet ready to commit to pure electric-car motoring, I’m more than happy to try out a plug-in hybrid, with its 'best-of-all-worlds electric power when you want it and petrol back-up when you need it' approach.

Thus, on my driveway now is the latest BMW X1 xDrive25e hybrid. My car combines a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine that drives the front wheels with an electric motor that drives the rear ones. It can provide pure electric power in one mode and, in other easily accessible modes, a combination of petrol and electric power that produces a healthy 217bhp. That's enough to propel it from 0-62mph in just 6.9sec, making it the fastest X1 currently available.


For me, it’s the ability to run for up to 32 miles on electric-only power that makes it such an attractive proposition. The on-paper economy is also impressive, with a combined average fuel consumption figure of 156.9mpg. Straightaway, the pedantic will be pointing out that it’s very unlikely that I’ll be able to match that tremendous on-paper fuel consumption figure in the real world, but that’s something I’m feeling fairly confident about. Why? Well, as mentioned, most of my journeys are short, so there’s the potential for electric-only motoring a lot of the time, and I’m hoping this will balance out the fact that, economy-wise, longer journeys won’t be this heavy-ish car’s forte.

Even if it turns out not to be as efficient as hoped, it will still be good to run. My car in M Sport trim sits at the top of the X1 range and comes with a raft of goodies, including 18in alloy wheels, leather seats, LED lighting, a sporty body kit and a stiffer suspension. You’ll also find dual-zone climate control, 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats, front and rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers and keyless start on my car, as well as electric folding door mirrors and an electrically operated tailgate.

On top of that, I’ve added a few options, the most obvious of which is the sparkling Mineral White paint that should help me find it easily in car parks. I’ve chosen a Comfort pack, with a heated steering wheel and electric memory seats, as well as two separate Technology packs that add wireless charging for my mobile phone, a reversing camera and a head-up display.


First impressions are definitely favourable. The multi-adjustable driving position is spot-on and the interior is a premium delight. It may be familiar BMW-fare, but everything is logically laid out and easy to use, and the rotary-controlled iDrive infotainment system is quite simply one of the best.

With lockdown restrictions still in force when I took delivery, all my initial journeys have so far been short and urban and, thanks to much use of home charging and judicious use of the accelerator pedal, I have yet to use more than the tiniest drop of petrol. So far my digital fuel consumption read-out is pinned at 99mpg, the maximum it can register. Longer and freer journeys beckon, but so far I can understand why my relatives are hooked on BMWs.

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