When the X1 was in its infancy, the first generation model helped start a trend of small premium crossovers, straddling the line between the traditional bigger X SUVs, and the 3 Series sedans. Although it offered a great engine and was styled distinctly, it was criticized for being a little cramped and lacking driving feel. A few years would address some concerns, with the addition of BMW EfficientDynamics and restyling, but BMW could ill afford to have its second generation X1 make the same mistakes. It’s now 2018, and after a major redesign of the exterior and interior bits in 2016, the second generation X1 finally gets the idea of a “Sports-Activity Vehicle” down pat.
We spent a few days with the 2018 BMW X1 xDrive20d in Xline spec, and we were pleasantly surprised with the versatility, styling, and great engine performance. Let’s go into more details below.
The xLine trim of the 2018 X1 comes with a few touches to make it more distinct among the rest of the X1 lineup. Right away, you’ll notice the aluminum kidney grille with vertical slats, and a bit of high gloss chrome on the edges. Th front bumper has silver design elements at the bottom, and the same bits near the foglights. Our tester also gets LED headlights and running lights, making the front unmistakably BMW. The rear gets silver plastic near the base of the rear bumper, and the Y-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels. The look hints at some off-road intentions, but we’re willing to bet our money that owners would do anything but. It’s more towards car than SUV, but that ground clearance is welcome for those who will traverse fire roads or light flooding.
Step into the 2018 BMW X1 xDrive20d, and you’re greeted by an immediately familiar layout if you’re a BMW owner, and a high quality and ergonomic layout if this is your first time. The xLine gets nice leather seats that are electronically adjustable, a sportier designed leather steering wheel, and a predominantly piano black interior. There are aluminum trim pieces running across the dashboard, and the parts that are plastic are soft and textured nicely. Some leather parts even have white contrast stitching. It’s a clean and good looking interior that exudes a no fuss attitude, but it’s still welcoming, especially at night where ambient lighting fills the cabin for all the passengers. The materials used are all high quality, and it certainly feels expensive and solid. Understated would be the correct term, but we like it that way. This is a family vehicle after all, and that huge trunk space edges out rivals like the Audi Q3. There’s even an electric tailgate for convenience.
BMW’s infotainment system is still top notch, and this latest version, while lacking gesture controls, utilizes the rotary dial between the front seats surrounded by a few shortcut buttons and is incredibly intuitive. Turn to select the onscreen menus, and press down to make a selection. While it is small at 6.5-inches, the colors are great and extremely readable.
On to the topic of space. The front passenger headroom of the X1, despite being as wide as a standard compact sedan or hatchback, is pretty tall; anyone that’s six feet will find it adequate. The rear is pretty good, too, as the sliding rear seats will allow a couple of tall people to travel in comfort. Three adults is pushing it, but children in the backseat will find acres of space. There are also a decent number of places for storage in the X1, with a pair of deep cupholders up front, a closable cubby in front of the gear lever, and the center armrest is the perfect place to hide your phone and connect it to the USB input.
So what’s it like to drive? The 2018 BMW X1 xDrive20d is powered by a 2.0L TwinPower turbo diesel engine that generates 190 hp and 400 Nm of torque while an eight-speed Steptronic transmission handles gear changes. Power is delivered to all four wheels as the xDrive20d is an all-wheel drive model. It’s a punchy engine and offers generous amounts of power for any driving situation. The best part is the fact that it’s paired with a very good transmission, always seemingly in the right gear, and ready to shift down at a moment’s notice. It’s a very good combination, and creates a cippy driving experience, especially around town. Switch from comfort into sport and you'll get more throttle response and longer gear holding.
In the city, the X1 breezes along, and its compact dimensions and small turning circle help it find its way around the metro. Sightlines are also good, with the windows large and blind spots minimal. Fuel consumption was also impressive, at 23 km/l on the highway at cruising speed, and around 15 km/l in the city.
Ride comfort is much better than the previous generation, but there’s still some stiffness if you’re used to other small crossovers; it’s in keeping with the sporting merit of BMW. It feels planted and composed in all but the roughest roads, where it unsettles a bit, especially if you miss to see that huge pothole or tall expansion joint sticking out. That stiffness does lead to some very nimble and agile handling characteristics, minimizing body roll and enhancing the driving experience.
Steering is weighty and precise, allowing you to point where you want the X1 to go, and it responds with positive feedback. On the highway, the X1 almost always feels dead center in your lane, only moving when positive effort is exerted. It’s one of the sportier and planted choices of the small SUV/Crossover bunch, and it’s good fun to drive fast. The diesel can be gruff under hard acceleration, but that quickly goes away and the vibrations disappear. Overall, the X1 is soft enough to be comfy, while not sacrificing too much for it not to handle well when asked.
With the market being flooded with all sorts of premium crossovers right now, and the small premium segment getting more competitive, it’s getting harder for manufacturers to stand out and be clear winners. The 2018 BMW X1 certainly nailed it with its second generation, and creates a package that’s not just better driving, but more versatile and usable, as well. It’s a good performer in almost every aspect, but not surging ahead of the competition in any category. It’s certainly a good looking and well equipped crossover, worthy competition to the likes of Audi, Jaguar, and Mercedes-Benz, so if you’re looking for a great all-arounder, the 2018 BMW X1 takes the cake.
190 hp @ 4,000 rpm
BMW X1 xDrive20d xLine
Number of Cylinders
Number of Valves
8-speed Automatic Transmission
Max Output (HP)
190 hp @ 4,000 rpm
Max Torque (nm)
400 Nm @ 1,750 rpm
Economy & Environment
3.0 L/100 km
Number of Doors
Number of Seats
Safety & Security
Front Passenger's Airbag
Electronic Brake Distribution
With Cornering Brake Control and Dynamic Traction Control
Electronic Door Locks
Speed Sensing Door Locks
Lane Departure Warning System
Blind-Spot Detection System
Front Parking Sensors
Rear Parking Sensors
Push Start Button
Wheels Metal Type
One Zone Automatic Air Conditioning
Radio BMW Business CD with AUX In.
Unlimited (2 Years)
Electric Adjustable Seats
Steering Wheel Audio Control
Active Park Assist
Hill Start Assist
Tire Pressure Monitoring
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