BMW X1 xDrive 25d

xLine

BMW X1, side
BMW X1, rear
BMW X1, front
BMW X1, front
BMW X1, front
BMW X1, front
BMW X1, rear
BMW X1, interior
BMW X1, headlight
BMW X1, badge
BMW X1, boot
BMW X1, interior
BMW X1, interior
BMW X1, engine

ALTHOUGH its popularity has never been in question, with almost 40,000 sold in the UK and 730,000 worldwide, the X1 had been something of an anomaly in the BMW range since it hit the road in 2009.

The smallest motor in the German car maker's X range, curved edges and a low roofline made the original version look more like a pumped-up 3 Series Touring than an SUV. It all seemed a bit of a mish-mash.

The arrival of the second generation X1 last autumn changed all that.

A comprehensive reworking has given us a car which now most definitely has the X-factor.

Taking its design cues from the hugely popular X3 and larger X5 it has a more muscular nose and sharper lines and, while slightly shorter, is both wider and taller than its predecessor.

Windows which taper towards the rear and a rising beltline create a dynamic feel that is finished off by alloy wheels, bulging wheel arches and twin tailpipes - creating an X1 that has more presence and is much easier on the eye.

The extra height and width also means improved space and practicality inside, where the somewhat utilitarian nature of the original's cabin has been replaced by fixtures and fittings of a quality much more befitting a premium-badged car.

Power comes from a choice of one petrol and three diesel engines, all 2.0-litre units, and four trim grades are available - SE and Sport with M Sport and xLine jointly topping the range and differentiated by having either performance-focused or more rugged body kit.

The entry-level diesel 18d is available with front-wheel drive, sDrive as BMW calls it, but all other models are equipped with the company's xDrive 4x4 running gear.

This xLIne car came with the most powerful 25d diesel engine, which is exclusive to the range-topping trim levels and paired with a slick eight-speed automatic transmission.

This is a really impressive combination which, on paper at least, brings hot-hatch performance levels to this SUV - racing to 62mph in just 6.6 seconds and onto a top speed of 146mph.

Of course, transferring hot-hatch excitement into the actual driving experience is much harder in a vehicle like this - but BMW are well-known for their driving dynamics and there is certainly more fun to be had here than with most rivals.

A drive mode selector offers self-explanatory settings of Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport and choosing the latter noticeably sharpens everything up, making throttle responses more urgent, the steering quicker and the suspension firmer.

The new X1 shares its underpinnings with the brand's 2-Series Active Tourer and Gran Tourer, the first ever MPVs from BMW, so it's no surprise that it also boasts some family-friendly versatility within its roomier cabin.

The extra height means headroom is plentiful and there's also more rear legroom - although a slightly raised transmission tunnel means the middle seat is probably best for kids.

The boot, at 505 litres, is 85 litres bigger than the one in the old model and offers great load-lugging capacity - which can be increased to as much as 1,550 litres by folding down the standard 40:20:40-split rear seat.

There's also an automatic tailgate and a false floor which, if you can forego a spare wheel, conceals a generous hidden storage space or can be removed to carry taller items.

The rear seats also slide forwards or backwards by up to 13cm, to maximise either loadspace or legroom depending upon the requirements for any given trip.

As always with the Germans, there's the potential for optional extras to hike up the price, but at nearly £37,000, xLine trim already includes many of the bells and whistles, such as upgraded infotainment and satnav systems, premium stereo, keyless entry and ignition, reversing camera, air conditioning, automatic city braking, collision warning and traction and stability control systems.

FAST FACTS

BMW X1 xDrive 25d xLine

Price: £36,720

Mechanical:231ps, 1,995cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed:146mph

0-62mph: 6.6 seconds

Combined MPG: 56.5

Insurance Group: 34

C02 emissions:133g/km

Bik rating: 26%

Warranty:3yrs/100,000 miles

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