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New Lexus LBX vs used BMW X1

It's no secret that we think highly of the new Lexus LBX, but, for similar money, you could pick up a year-old BMW X1, so is that the better buy?...

New Lexus LBX vs used BMW X1

The contenders

NEW Lexus LBX 1.5 Premium Plus

List price £34,495
Target Price £34,495

The reigning What Car? Car of the Year is an economical yet plush small SUV

USED BMW X1 xDrive23i M Sport (Pro Pack)

Price new £42,970
Price used £36,000*

Quick and practical, does a used X1 offer more for your money than its new car rival? 

*Price used is based on a 2023 model with average mileage and a full service history and is correct at the time of writing

When Apple began selling the smaller, cheaper iPhone 12 Mini, many people assumed it was a comprehensive downgrade next to the staple iPhone 12. However, that was far from the case: bar the battery, the Mini got the exact same internals as its bigger sibling, so it could perform at the same level. 

You might make similar assumptions about the Lexus LBX, being the newest, smallest and cheapest model in the brand's range. Yet, in addition to this small SUV being a true Lexus in regards to the luxury it offers, we believe it to be a better-executed product than its larger counterparts. The LBX is so good, in fact, that we dubbed it our 2024 Car of the Year

Red Lexus LBX front left driving

So, the LBX has bested its own flock, as well as all of its new car rivals, but what happens when you introduce an alternative from the used car market? Surely, for a small premium, you could buy, say, a year-old used BMW X1 – a larger SUV (from the family SUV class) that promises plenty of sporty appeal? Well, you'd be right: a saving of almost £7000 off new has landed it in LBX territory, thus we've put together this comparison. 


Performance, ride, handling, refinement

The LBX features a single-engine option. It's a hybrid set-up, combining a 1.5-litre petrol unit with a battery and electric motor. This allows it to travel on electric power alone (for short distances), but you don't have the option to plug in and increase the range like you can with a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). 

The X1 is available with petrol, diesel, mild-hybrid (MHEV) and PHEV engines. The 23i version featured here is a MHEV, meaning it can't travel on electric power alone – let alone be plugged in. Instead, its 2.0-litre petrol engine gets subtle electrical assistance for a marginal gain in fuel economy and performance. 

BMW X1 front cornering

Nonetheless, the X1 23i is much more powerful than the LBX. With 215bhp at its disposal, we timed the X1 from 0-60mph in a hot-hatch-like 6.7sec. The LBX, by comparison, may appear a tad sluggish, with its 134bhp and 0-60mph time of 10.3sec (against our stopwatch). Both cars were timed in the wet, hence the X1's four-wheel-drive traction helped widen the gap between it and the front-wheel-drive LBX – the LBX is available with four-wheel-drive, if you opt for one of the top trims, but this drives up the list price. 

Generally, though, the LBX doesn't struggle for traction or grip. And, while it can't match the X1 for sheer pace, it still feels punchy, largely thanks to the instant, electrified boost of the hybrid system at low speed. Certainly, in and around town, the LBX is more than quick enough. It copes well on a motorway cruise, too. 

Red Lexus LBX rear cornering

For an SUV of its size, the X1 handles sharply, turning into corners eagerly and with minimal body lean. However, its steering, even in Sport mode, is very light. That’s fine around town, where squeezing into a parking space or performing a tight manoeuvre is made effortless, but, at higher speeds, the X1 doesn’t provide you with a great sense of connection to the front wheels, robbing you of confidence.

The X1 utilises firm suspension. Sure, that's a large reason why it handles so well, but the trade-off is reduced ride comfort. The X1 can fidget over rough surfaces while also twanging noisily over expansion joints and larger road scars.

BMW X1 rear panning

The LBX is an even better handler, mainly because it's smaller and lighter and, therefore, more nimble and agile. Dimensions aside, though, it also has heavier, more naturally weighted steering and superior composure over an undulating road. While it still has relatively firm suspension and can feel a bit jiggly at low speeds, its ride is more forgiving, helping it flow down a broken country road with more finesse. There's less suspension noise, too. In short, the LBX is the more comfortable option. 

Next: What are they like inside? >>

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