BMW X1 xDrive25e Starting Price: €49,995
Price as tested: €51,919
Spacious interior, potentially economical to run
Smaller boot than other BMW X1s, expensive to buy
WHAT IS IT?
The BMW X1 is the smallest of the German marque’s SUV models and this version, the xDrive25e, is the plug-in hybrid of the line-up. It is built using the same underpinnings as the BMW X2, 2 Series Active Tourer and the MINI Countryman.
A 10kWh lithium-ion battery is located in the car’s rear and can officially provide enough energy for as much as 52 kilometres of electric driving. However, we reckon 40- to 45 kilometres is a more realistic figure. The battery sends energy to an electric motor that drives the rear wheels, while a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine drives the front wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox.
HOW ABOUT THE LOOKS?
Although this is the smallest of BMW’s SUVs, the X1 has chunky proportions and attractive styling similar to its larger siblings, like the X3 and X5. You can’t get the X1 plug-in on the entry-level SE specification, but the Sport version comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, black window surrounds and roof rails.
A slightly more rugged looking xLine version swaps out the sporty black detailing for some metallic finishes and has scuff plates on the bumpers to emphasise its off-road appearance. The M Sport version is the most attractive of the range and gets bespoke bumpers and silver alloy wheels. Small 'M' badges on the wings and interior signal its range-topping status and, like the xLine, there is nice Dakota leather upholstery inside, too.
Unlike some of its other models, BMW plays it safe with the exterior styling of the X1, giving it quite a broad appeal. Some may prefer a more daring look as found on the Volvo XC40 or the Lexus UX, but we think BMW has done a decent job overall with the X1’s design.
WHAT IS THE INSIDE LIKE?
Even though the X1 isn’t particularly large, it does benefit from a tall roofline that contributes to the sense of space inside. That tall windscreen also provides excellent forward visibility and, if you choose the optional €1,139 Technology Pack, you gain a reversing camera.
The rest of the dashboard layout is typical BMW fare, with physical buttons for the main controls such as temperature settings and the radio. There is an infotainment display mounted up good and high on the dashboard and it is pretty intuitive to operate with the rotary controller between the front seats.
Space in the rear is reasonably good and there are easily accessible child seat mounts on the outer seats. There is a chunky transmission tunnel in the middle of the floor though, and that does eat into foot space for whoever is in the middle seat.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
Unlike most BMW M Sport models, the suspension isn’t altered in this X1, so it doesn’t suffer from any reduction in comfort. It copes well on most roads and is reasonably good at providing a smooth ride. The steering isn’t perhaps as pin-sharp as that of a BMW 3 Series, but most drivers will find it pleasant to drive.
Using only battery power shows how well made the BMW is, with no squeaks or rattles, and the electric motor gives it brisk performance. You can drive the X1 electrically at motorway speeds, too, although this will drain the battery much faster and, once you get above 60km/h, the road noise begins to pick up. Sticking to urban routes suits the X1 best.
When that battery charge is depleted, the BMW automatically switches into hybrid mode. It will tend to use its three-cylinder petrol engine as sparingly as possible. There isn’t much fuss as it alternates between that, pure-electric driving and a combination of the two. The six-speed automatic gearbox isn’t as smooth or seamless as other dual-clutch setups, but most people are unlikely to find much cause for complaint. It does make driving in slow-moving traffic easier than with a manual gearbox.
WHICH ONE SHOULD I BUY?
Pricing for the BMW X1 xDrive25e starts at €47,785 for the Sport specification and this features most of the styling items you might want, but not everyone will like the black alloy wheels that comes as standard at this level. It is the only version that doesn’t get leather upholstery inside, too.
The €49,015 xLine adds a slightly more rugged exterior design, though the changes are subtle. Like the Sport, the wheel arches and sills are finished in black plastic to emphasise the SUV image, and it also receives LED headlights.
Topping the range is the M Sport variant, which costs €49,995, featuring specific bumpers and body coloured wheel arches and sills. Complementing all this is the exterior Shadowline package that adds gloss back to the roof rails and window surrounds. If you prioritise looks, then this is the one to pick.
IS IT SAFE?
The BMW X1 scored a full five stars in the Euro NCAP test, but that was back in 2015 and the test has become more difficult in recent years. That overall result works out as 90 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupants, 74 per cent for pedestrians and 77 per cent for its safety assist systems.
All versions of the BMW X1 hybrid get the Active Guard feature that includes forward vehicle collision warning. The X1 also comes with cruise control with braking function as standard.
Like all plug-in hybrids, this X1 only makes real sense if you’re going to be able to charge the battery at home and make the most of its electric range. It’s not cheap to buy but it does feel like a premium SUV.
BMW X1 25e xDrive M Sport
Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol with electric motor
Fuel economy: 1.7 litres/100km
Top Speed: 193km/h
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Annual Motor Tax: €140
Luggage Capacity: 450-litres with the seat up, which can extend out to 1,470-litres with the rear seats folded.
Price as tested: €51,919
AA Ireland: August 2021