First Drive Review: BMW X1 and iX1

By Chris Russon


First Drive: BMW X1 and iX1

Explore the key features of the BMW X1 and iX1 in our expert first drive review

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The BMW X1 and iX1 are true front-runners in the compact SUV market, boasting superb driving dynamics in a practical package.


  • Great performance
  • Sleek design
  • Decent practicality
  • Efficient range of engines
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BMW has a new X1 compact SUV, and for the first time it is available with all major powertrains – including an all-electric model.

The iX1 – as the electric version is called – will be joining petrol, diesel, and plug-in hybrid versions.

Powertrains and Charging

All models are automatic and, with the exception of the entry-level model, are four-wheel drive with Sport, xLine, and M Sport specifications available.

We have just sampled the new X1 in mild-hybrid xDrive23i xLine trim, and also grabbed a drive in a prototype version of the iX1.

As such, the xDrive23i with its 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine developing 215bhp performance is impressive for a car of this ilk, with a 0 to 62mph acceleration time of 7.1 seconds and a maximum of 145mph.

Officially, it is rated at 42.8mpg at best with emissions of 148g/km, and that proved to be a conservative figure with us managing to achieve 46.6mpg on our drive according to the trip computer.

The all-electric iX1 has a range of up to 270 miles on a full charge, which can be done from empty in 6.5 hours from a standard charging point or less than four hours from an optional quicker charger.

Recharging to 80 percent capacity takes 29 minutes from a DC charger, or 75 miles additional range can be added in just 10 minutes.

The electric motors in the iX1 develops the equivalent of 309bhp, giving it a 0 to 62mph acceleration time of 5.7 seconds – the quickest of all models in the new line-up. Maximum speed is 112mph.

Recharging is done from a point on the rear off-side – the same place as the fuel flap on combustion engined versions and another user-friendly feature of the iX1.

Design and Practicality

The new X1 is bigger than its predecessor with length increased by 53mm to 4.5 metres, width by 24mm to 1.845 metres and its height by 44mm to 1.642 metres. The wheelbase is also 22mm longer at 2.682 metres.

LED headlights are now standard across the range, while a larger BMW kidney grille with its chrome surrounds and active intake system dominates the front end, giving the car a very purposeful poise.

With the rear seats down, you can stretch luggage capacity to 1,600 litres.

Cargo space is not quite as generous in the iX1 at some 490 litres – and neither is towing capacity, which is down from two tonnes with the combustion engined model to 1.2 tonnes for the EV.

Both have up-to-the-minute interior designs and feature BMW’s new Curved Display instrumentation, which sees two display screens merging as one with a 10.25-inch information screen and a 10.7-inch control panel.

There is also a ‘floating’ armrest which includes storage space below a centre console which houses drive mode and other controls ahead of cupholders and the car’s wireless mobile phone charger.

It is a clean-cut set-up and gives the interior a functional and high-tech look that sets the new X1 apart.

Driving Experience

On the road, it feels well planted and nicely predictable, while the power delivery is nicely sporty for an SUV.
Chris Russon

Adaptive suspension similar to that used on the M Sport versions is fitted to the iX1, and it delivers a commandingly sporty drive with pin-sharp handling aided by a boost setting which engages maximum performance briefly via a pull on the left side paddle shifter.

An electronic sound system - which can be configured to reflect your driving preference - adds to the fun and feel of the car and the navigation system on the iX1 uses smart technology to give an optimised route if the vehicle’s range is insufficient to reach the entered destination.


Striking modern looks, a dynamic drive, and efficient engine choices all add up to a very complete package that puts the X1 at the top of the tree when it comes to compact SUVs. Not to mention the excellent premium feel that is to be expected of a new BMW model.