The new BMW X1 Diesel Estate is pretty large for a BMW, but it’s the runt of the brand’s SUV family. In fact, it’s hardly any bigger than a Ford Focus, which means it’s ideal for anyone who wants a compact “big car.”
What it offers families is a practical, economical and upmarket way to get from A to B while having a bit of fun. It looks big but it’s small enough to park and manoeuvre tricky turns with ease, and it doesn’t really have any obvious rivals.
OSV takes a closer look at what it’s all about with our 2018 BMW X1 Diesel Estate review.
On The Road
The outgoing X1 was a bit cumbersome, which was no surprise – after all, it was based on the rather dated 3 Series Touring. Fast forward to 2018, and BMW has based the new X1 on the brand new 2 Series Active Tourer. This means that the X1 also shares its platform with the recent MINI Hatchback.
On the road, it’s just as agile, zippy and capable as the MINI. Its steering is nice and precise, and despite looking like a bigger BMW that we’re all accustomed to, body lean isn’t an issue.
All models get a decent 6-speed manual ‘box as standard, but buyers can add an 8-speed Steptronic auto transmission if they prefer. On the whole, this gearbox is seamless but it does get a bit awkward when you put it into Sport mode.
In terms of the engines, the xDrive25d model is the biggest diesel in the range. It develops 228bhp, which we suspect will be more powerful than the average growing family will actually need. Four-wheel-drive is standard, as is the 8-speed automatic gearbox, there’s plenty of punch available at mid and low rev ranges – but it is a noisy old thing as you put your foot down.
It’s quick though, and can dispense with the 0-62 sprint in 6.6 seconds before maxing out at 146mph.
We reckon most buyers will stick to the xDrive20d model, which also gets four-wheel-drive as standard. It produces a healthy 188bhp and is a more-than-capable enough performer that will satisfy your needs.
Moreover, it’s punchy and refined, and has enough power in its tank to cover the 0-62 dash in just 7.6 seconds.
The xDrive20d model is paired up with a 6-speed manual gearbox as standard, but you can specify the 8-speed auto ‘box at no extra cost.
An underpowered sDrive18d model sits at the bottom of the range.
BMW X1 Diesel Estate Interior, Design & Build
The X1’s cabin is standard fare for BMW – logical and rich in quality.
There are lots of things to like about its interior, from the impressive visibility (which is aided by the raised driver’s seat) to the excellent suspension system which does a grand job of smoothing out most road surfaces.
That said, spending extra on the optional adaptive dampers is still a good idea as they boost ride quality and comfort even more.
The dashboard itself will be familiar to those of you who have spent time in a BMW before. It’s very driver-focused, with the centre console and controls angled towards you. The materials used are all of a high quality, and all models get the brand’s iDrive system which is accompanied by a 6” infotainment screen.
Is the BMW X1 Diesel Estate practical? It’s super spacious in the back, with leg and headroom a huge bonus for rear-seated passengers. In fact, legroom has increased by 37mm, while paying extra for a sliding rear seat, nets you even more rear legroom.
Storage spaces include four door bins that can all accommodate one-litre bottles and a decent-sized glovebox.
The boot, meanwhile, is 85-litres bigger than its predecessor, and now measures 505-litres. Fold the rear seats and it increases to 1,550-litres.
Equipment & Safety Of The BMW X1 Diesel Estate
Standard kit across the range is good, with all models getting sat-nav, a powered tailgate, 17” alloys, the brand’s excellent iDrive system, a USB jack, Driving Experience Control, six speakers, front fog lamps, automatic lights and wipers, as well as a leather steering wheel that’s adjustable for rake and reach.
The Sport model adds unique exterior styling, 18” alloys, front sports seats, and colour personalisation options.
The xLine gets unique 18” alloys, different styling options, heated front seats, LED headlights, leather upholstery, and silver accents for the black grille.
Optional extras include leather upholstery for the lower-spec models, a panoramic roof and a passenger seat that folds flat.
In terms of how safe the X1 is, it was last crash tested by Euro NCAP in 2015, when it was awarded all five stars. Since then, its insurance grouping has dropped, which is a good indicator as to how safe it is.
Its standard safety kit includes brake-pre conditioning, a forward collision warning system and head-up display. Driving Assistant is optional, and it comes with automatic high-beam headlights and lane departure warning.
Costs Of The BMW X1 Diesel Estate
Prices for the new car start out from £27,625 and rise to £38,635. For more information on our leasing deals, check out our page here.
In terms of its running costs, good fuel economy is available all across the engine range. A small sDrive18d model might not have the power to satisfy most buyers, but its returns of 68.mpg are attractive. It also emits just 109g/km of CO2 and has a BiK rating of 23%. Adding four-wheel-drive sees its mpg figure drop to around the 60mpg mark.
The xDrive20d model adds more power and returns 58.6mpg at best, but still has an impressive BiK rating of 27%.
The xDrive25d model, meanwhile, returns 55.4mpg, emits 133g/km of CO2 and has a BiK rating of 28%.
Pros and Cons Of The BMW X1 Diesel Estate
The entry-level model returns close to a 70mpg economy.
With either front or four-wheel-drive, it handles well.
Much Better Looking Than Last Time
Its predecessor was kinda frumpy but it’s now more stylish.
No Rear-Wheel Drive Layout
Enthusiasts will want to look away now.
Not Great Off-Road
It looks like you could take it off-road, but it will struggle, especially without xDrive.
BMW X1 Diesel Estate vs Audi Q3 vs Mercedes GLA
Let’s see how the car fares against its rivals in the comparison section of our 2018 BMW X1 Diesel Estate review.
BMW X1 Diesel Estate vs Audi Q3
The new Audi Q3 is a compact, upmarket SUV that’s smartly designed and which is a strong rival to the BMW.
On the road, the Q3 is fun, powerful and agile. All models cover the 0-62 sprint in less than 10.0 seconds, body lean is well managed and there’s plenty of grip available. On the whole, however, the BMW will be more appealing to enthusiasts.
Adaptive dampers are available as an optional extra and they’re well worth adding. Without them, the Q3 feels a tad too firm on poorer surfaces. If you want a soothing ride, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
In terms of the engines, there are two diesels available. A 2.0-litre turbo-diesel unit develops 181bhp and can get you from rest to 62mph in 7.9 seconds. It comes with four-wheel-drive as standard, doesn’t make much noise and can be ordered with an automatic gearbox.
Doing so doesn’t improve performance but it does boost the economy from 53.3mpg to 54.3mpg.
The alternative diesel is a smaller, slower 2.0-litre engine that develops 148bhp and returns 62.8mpg while emitting 117g/km of CO2.
Inside, the Q3 boasts a typically classy Audi interior that’s spacious and beautifully put together. There are tactile materials and soft-touch plastics everywhere, the controls are gorgeously finished, and insulation is very good.
On the other hand, it’s a bit disappointing that the Q3 misses out on VW Group’s latest technology, and as a result – despite getting Audi Drive Select and the brand’s MMI integrated entertainment system, it doesn’t feel cutting edge.
Is the Audi Q3 practical? It’s barely bigger than a VW Golf Hatchback, but it can claim to be more usable. Audi has done a good job of getting as much out of its dimensions as possible, with big windows and a high roofline making it feel spacious.
It also is spacious, and rear seated passengers should have no complaints with the amount of head and legroom on offer. Storage space is good and includes an air-conditioned glovebox, while the boot measures 420-litres – smaller than the BMW but decent for a car in this class.
BMW – £27,625 – £38,635
Audi – £27,910 – £37,900
BMW X1 Diesel Estate vs Mercedes GLA
The new Mercedes GLA is essentially a bigger, bulkier A-Class – but it lacks space all the same.
Unlike the BMW and Audi, not all Mercedes models are four-wheel-drive. The GLA200d comes with front-wheel-drive as standard but can be specified with 4MATIC four-wheel-drive. It’s a good system that provides extra grip in tough situations, and when conditions are good, the system reverts to four-wheel-drive so that you don’t lose unnecessary fuel.
All models handle well, the suspension setup is soft, but the biggest disappointment is a lack of steering wheel. As such, we have to recommend the BMW X1 as the better driver’s car. The BMW can also boast better ride quality.
In terms of the engines, a 2.1-litre diesel powers both the GLA200d and the GLA220d. Both are noisy and hardly suit the car’s image as a relaxed cruiser of-sorts.
The GLA200d can get you from rest to 62mph in 9.9 seconds, regardless of whether you pair it up with a manual or an automatic ‘box, while the GLA220d completes the same sprint in 7.7 seconds.
Running costs? The two-wheel-drive GLA200d model is the most frugal, and can return 67.3mpg at best. Add four-wheel-drive and that drops to 58mpg.
Inside, the car’s soft suspension setup, large tyres and raised body add up to a comfortable GLA, but the loud diesel engines offset this somewhat.
The interior is refined on the whole, however, but interior quality is another questionable aspect. While there is certainly evidence of top-notch, platinum materials here and there, there is also evidence of low-rent plastics, too.
And check the rotary dial for the sat-nav and audio systems – it’s not very classy.
A recent facelift has added more lame to the dashboard but button clutter remains an issue. Apart from that, this is essentially the same as the dash in the A-Class, which means you get some pretty dame sophisticated chromed air vents and a dash-mounts colour screen.
Is the Mercedes GLA practical? Its 481-litre boot falls short of the BMW but it’s larger than most other rivals. Access to the rear seats is easy, and for once two adults will have a good amount of room to get comfortable.
Storage space is par for the course, with the automatic version adding more storage in the centre console.
Mercedes – £26,520 – £38,095
Verdict Of Our 2018 BMW X1 Diesel Estate Review
The first generation X1 was pretty dire to say the least, but this new variant is much improved. The frumpy styling has been replaced by sharp looks, the engines are efficient but powerful, and the fact that its platform is shared with the MINI Hatchback means that it’s fun to drive. The new BMW X1 Diesel Estate now has the quality to match its badge appeal.