The year was 2016, and at this point I was doing a fair amount of road trips on a range of differing surfaces. I had been driving a VW Golf GTI (Mk 6) for the past six years, and with over 200,000 kilometres on it, I knew it was time for a change.
I liked the idea of a premium compact SUV, as I wanted something with all-wheel drive, but I didn’t want it to come at the expense of size or dynamic ability. After copious amounts of research, my shortlist had come down to Volkswagen’s Tiguan, the Mercedes GLA, and BMW’s X1.
After much deliberation, I chose the BMW as it seemed to offer the best mix of performance, value, style and versatility. The exact model I chose was the X1 25i in Mineral White (metallic) with the M-Sport Package - I was stoked.
I kid you not, I could not get over how stunning this car looked. The metallic white gave it that extra bit of depth, with the M-Sport package providing a stylish, yet muscular presence. The only thing missing was a set of 20-inch wheels – don’t get me wrong, the 19’s look sophisticated, but yeah, an inch can make a big difference!
The interior has been an absolute stand out. Firstly, it’s huge! I’m 187cm tall, and leg and headroom (even with the panoramic sunroof) is impressive. Comfortable seats too, as they really hug the body whilst offering good support, and more than enough adjustment options to make yourself comfortable.
Cabin design is quintessential BMW; quality controls, minimalistic, and extremely ergonomic. Everything falls into place quite organically, and seamlessly. The iDrive system is fantastic; functional, intuitive, and quite reliable. My only complaint is the navigation system. While it works adequately most of the time, it doesn’t seem as accurate as something like Google Maps. More than a few times it has sent me to roads that lead to nowhere, or it simply can’t find the destination at all.
The X1 is a pleasure on the open road, and the adaptive dampers work brilliantly in this sense. There are three options – comfort, sport, or eco. I generally leave it in comfort around town as it offers the best ride/handling mix, but when it comes to freeway driving or twisty mountain roads, the sport option is marvellous. This gives the car beefier steering, firms up the suspension and makes the engine/transmission seem far more willing – definitely my favourite out of the three. I’ve used eco a few times but didn’t notice a huge difference compared to the comfort setting.
Oh, also worth noting is how fantastic the LED headlights are. When it comes to driving at night, whether it be around town, or foggy/rainy conditions, the lights offer brilliant clarity. Far better than the classic halogens I had on my previous car.
The engine/transmission combination is pretty flawless. The four-cylinder petrol turbo offers a healthy amount of power and torque and has more than enough oomph to overtake or traverse mountainous roads. There’s some turbo lag present, but not overtly. The eight-speed auto is brilliant, being smooth and precise, while teaming beautifully with the engine.
Surprisingly, reliability has been a real stand out for me. I’ve done over 70,000 kilometres in the X1 and have come across no major issues. With all the tech and electronics in the car, I was a little worried about how dependable the car would be after I put it through its paces, but BMW, you’ve earned my trust! Albeit, there have been some minor issues with the sunroof from time to time, but nothing I can’t handle myself (after a quick reset).
Practicality has been utterly phenomenal. Such an amazingly versatile car, with plenty of boot space. Little things like being able to fold the second-row seats from the rear makes a big difference. Cupholders are of a decent size and there’s plenty of storage options around the cabin. Although, one gripe; the console between the driver and passenger seat feels a little flimsy, like an afterthought – just not as rock-solid as the rest of the interior.
In regard to future iterations, I really hope BMW offer a genuine M version (like the X2 M35i). Whilst the 25i offers more than enough performance for most driving conditions, there have been times when I wished the car had more grunt. Also, the option for 20-inch wheels!
After three years and over 70,000 kilometres, this li'l beast continues to impress. I just adore my X1. Everything from the sparkling white exterior, to the melodic voice of the iDrive system (haha I’m not even joking, it’s pure class!). The X1 isn’t perfect, but it does do a lot right and ownership over the years has been an absolute pleasure. Great work, BMW.