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Used BMW X1 (2015-2022) engines, driving and performance

How does the BMW X1 drive?

A front-wheel-drive SUV isn’t going to appeal to driving purists, but the BMW X1 does a pretty good job of injecting some BMW-ness into a fairly ordinary family hauler. It’s one of the best SUVs to drive, with a sporty feel that’s immediately apparent as soon as you get in.

The steering, while short of feeling like most modern cars, is direct and responsive. Coupled with very little body roll, the X1 is an SUV that doesn’t embarrass itself through a set of sharp corners. We’d even say it’s fun.

The vast majority of X1s come with an automatic gearbox. It’s a better fit for the X1 than a manual gearbox, and it reacts quickly when you want more power. Most of the time it’s unobtrusive and agreeable – exactly as an automatic gearbox should be. In Sport mode, there isn’t the annoying and noisy rev hang that you get in some rivals – it’s very well calibrated.

Is the BMW X1 comfortable?

It’s both firm and comfortable. Let us explain – it’s definitely sporty and remains flat over bumps, but the harshness is filtered out before the impact reaches the cabin. You’ll notice the condition of the road beneath you, but you won’t be wincing over potholes and speed bumps.

The size of the wheels and the suspension setup will slightly influence the ride comfort so, if you’re particularly tuned to imperfections in the road, we’d recommend the SE, Sport or xLine versions. SE models get smaller wheels, too, so should be the best-riding X1.

It’s also worth noting that run-flat tyres were an option on the X1 – if fitted, they offer the reassurance that you can get to somewhere safe if you get a puncture, but they’re not so good for ride comfort.

What’s the best engine to get?

A couple of petrol engines and a couple of diesel engines, plus a plug-in hybrid, are available to X1 buyers. Kicking off the range is the 18i petrol engine, and this 136hp 1.5-litre engine packs enough punch to get up to speed without any trouble. Above that is a 2.0-litre petrol engine with 190hp – the 20i – and it’s available with both two or four-wheel drive. Two-wheel-drive versions of both these engines will return between 40-45mpg.

Diesel buyers can pick between the 18d and 20d engines, which are capable of up to 56mpg with front-wheel drive and 51mpg with four-wheel drive. In BMW-speak, sDrive means two-wheel drive, and xDrive means four-wheel drive. The diesel engines are great for high-mileage drivers but, if they’re only used for town journeys, DPF issues from excess soot build up may come up.

Urbanites are better off with the flexible xDrive25e plug-in hybrid. The 156mpg figure is only realistic with regular recharging, but the 30-mile electric range should reduce your fuel consumption on whatever road you’re on. A full charge from a household plug socket takes five hours, so it’s easy to keep the battery topped up if you’ve got a driveway. If that’s the case, we think the PHEV is the pick of the range – you get rapid acceleration, smooth electric-only running and the potential for the lowest running costs in the lineup.

The X1 benefits from variable servicing, where the service interval is determined by the type of driving you do. The system can flag up when parts need replacing – which also stops parts being replaced unnecessarily, potentially saving you some maintenance costs. You can expect to go up to two years or 18,000 miles between services. That should take some of the sting out of servicing costs – but budget up to £250 for a minor service and £400 for a major one.

BMW X1 performance

Nipping just under 10 seconds for the 0-62mph sprint, even the entry-level sDrive18i engine should be powerful enough for most drivers. Both the 20d and 20i engines reduce this to under eight seconds, and both feel quick enough to make motorway driving or overtakes easy.

With no hot X1 available, look to the related BMW X2 M35i if you’re a speed freak. The fastest X1 is the plug-in hybrid – with a combined output of 220hp, the xDrive25e can sprint from 0-62mph in just 6.9 seconds, which feels plenty quick enough for a fun family SUV.

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