The BMW X1 xDrive25e on test for Changing Lanes!
The BMW X1 xDrive25e on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2021 BMW X1!

The BMW X1. The baby of the BMW X family of SUVs. For BMW, with a rich history in SUVs like the popular X5, the new brief required of the market was to beef up the compacts to satiate growing consumer demand for anything that looked at all like it might be good off-road!

The result was the X1, first launched in 2009, with a second generation model debuting in 2015. In 2019 the brand refreshed the car with some updated styling and the introduction of an all-new plug-in hybrid model.

Now the BMW X1 meets Changing Lanes for the first time. Excited, yes!

What’s new for the 2021 BMW X1?

Plug-in hybrid is hot right now, you might have noticed. Now joining the X1’s range of petrol and diesel engines is the BMW X1 PHEV – aka the BMW X1 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid model.

The X1 range goes on sale from €40,775, with the plug in hybrid available from €45,790, while the sporty M Sport model on test retails from €47,287. There are four model variants available for the X1 – SE, Sport, xLine and M Sport – and each stands apart with its own unique looks and equipment to match.

The BMW X1 PHEV retails from €47,287 in Ireland
The BMW X1 PHEV retails from €47,287 in Ireland

The X1 has a stylish and upmarket presence. It’s not the most exciting or sporty BMW you ever set eyes upon, but with a softer, more friendly look to it. The M Sport version comes equipped with upgraded M Sport suspension and the M Aerodynamics package. Other features include heated front seats, folding exterior mirrors and Dakota Leather upholstery. The front apron, side skirts, wheel arch trim, diffuser and cladding on the BMW X1 M Sport come in body colour, with larger air intakes than other models.

Inside the 2021 BMW X1

The cabin of the 2021 BMW X1 is a comfortable and secure place to be. While this is an older generation BMW interior, the fit and finish of the car is truly special. It feels so upmarket and well-built. So classy!

This latest model incorporates the sixth generation of BMW’s iDrive system that introduces a touchscreen control for the Control Display alongside the iDrive Controller and optional intelligent voice control.

The X1 is a compact car but it feels spacious inside for this class of vehicle. Boot space is slightly compromised by the battery on board for the plug-in hybrid model, but it’s not a huge impact and the boot does feel practical with a hatchback style opening for good access. There’s 450 litres in total. A powered tailgate is available. Standard 40:20:40 split folding backrests allow the boot capacity to be increased to 1,470 litres.

The interior of the BMW X1
The interior of the BMW X1

What are my options?

The BMW X1 is powered by a range of three and four cylinder turbo engines, using either a front-wheel drive configuration or BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive. Manual and automatic gearboxes are available. The petrol range starts with the 140 hp 1.5-litre sDrive18i. There is also a more powerful 2.0-litre X1 sDrive20i with 192 hp. The diesel range uses a 2.0-litre engine, and both the sDrive and the all-wheel drive xDrive18d models deliver 150 hp. The 190hp all-wheel-drive xDrive20d is at the top of the X1 range.

BMW is stepping up its electrification journey with the addition of new plug-in hybrids to familiar favourites of the range. The new X1 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid on test uses a 1.5-litre, three cylinder engine with a 9.7 kWh battery giving an electric range of up to 57 km. The petrol engine transfers its power to a 6-speed Steptronic transmission and drives the front wheels. The electric motor delivers its power to the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission. This makes for a hybrid specific all-wheel drive, which makes the X1 super agile! It grips the road exceptionally well, with 220 hp available.

The new BMW X1 PHEV uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine, battery and electric motor
The new BMW X1 PHEV uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine, battery and electric motor

On the road in the BMW X1 xDrive25e

So beneath the quite demure looks, the X1 hybrid offers a lively drive and great handling. This is down to the car’s low centre of gravity, wide track, short overhangs, high level of body and chassis rigidity, and a suspension tuned well for comfort and agility. The xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system is linked with BMW’s DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) to keep oversteer or understeer in check, while the M Sport models add M Sport suspension for a sharper drive.

If you do a lot of town driving, the X1 PHEV is ideal as an introduction to electric motoring with up to 57 km available from a fully charged battery. From a wall box, the battery can be charged in just over 3 hours or in 5 hours from a conventional household socket. The charging socket is located under a separate flap on the front left side wall of the car.

Over a week of driving, my average fuel consumption was 7 litres per 100 kilometre. I failed to keep the battery topped up, so with more regular charging the X1 could be run more efficiently.

The X1 is a practical compact SUV with plug-in hybrid power
The X1 is a practical compact SUV with plug-in hybrid power

Did you like it?

The BMW X1 really surprised me. It’s a real high quality compact SUV, one with all of the class and refinement of a BMW wrapped up in a smaller (and chunkier) package like the X1.

It’s not the trendiest looking machine but the cabin may seduce you with its class, design and quality. It feels a little old school but in a reassuring way, like a good strong cup of tea!

This is a practical car with plenty of flexibility that gives it a headstart over the BMW 1 Series for example, and a different character.

Yet its nimble, compact and fun to drive. While there are petrol and diesel engines on offer, the X1 plug-in hybrid is a good option for urban drivers who can make use of that electric range, charge after every journey, and sample electric motoring for a limited range.

There is lots of power and it is super refined. So guess what? We really enjoyed driving the X1 at Changing Lanes!

BMW continues to expand plug-in hybrid range with new X1 PHEV
BMW continues to expand plug-in hybrid range with new X1 PHEV

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: BMW X1 xDrive25e
Price:
€47,287
Engine: 
1.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 220 hp
Torque: 385 Nm
Top speed: 193 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 6.9 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
43-48 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year