Pros
    • Grown-up, spacious interior
    • Packs a punch in a straight line
    • Interior tech is mostly excellent
    Cons
    • Big price jump over xDrive20i
    • Gets a bit busy over rough roads
    • Interior technology can still be fiddly

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    The BMW X1 is all grown up.

    The first-generation car was a high-riding 3 Series Touring wearing rugged outdoor clothes, and the second was a strong-selling (but slightly underwhelming) take on the Mini Countryman – the third is a more rounded car.

    Along with tougher looks on the outside, the new model has a properly up-to-date interior packing enough space for a young family… and the option of a range-topping, Mercedes-AMG GLA 35-bothering M35i performance model.

    It certainly looks more grown up from the outside. With chunky proportions, big wheels, oversized quad pipes, and its silky, satin matte paint, this is an eye-catching SUV in person – and that’s before you catch sight of the red-and-black interior finish.

    WATCH: Paul’s video review of the iX1 xDrive30

    All that presence doesn’t come cheap, however. With a sticker north of $90,000 before on-road costs (and options), the new range-topping X1 also carries a pretty serious price tag.

    We put it through its paces on a 1000km road trip to see if it’s worth the spend.

    How much does the BMW X1 cost?

    With a sticker price of $90,900 before on-road costs, this is comfortably the most expensive X1 ever.

    It’s a whopping $17,500 more expensive than the xDrive20i M Sport sitting below it in the range, although it’s also a more generously equipped and more powerful take on the formula.

    2024 BMW X1 pricing

    • 2024 BMW X1 sDrive18i xLine: $60,400
    • 2024 BMW X1 xDrive20i xLine: $70,400
    • 2024 BMW X1 xDrive20i M Sport: $73,400
    • 2024 BMW X1 M35i xDrive: $90,900

    All prices exclude on-road costs

    To see how the BMW X1 stacks up alongside its rivals, use our comparison tool.

    What is the BMW X1 like on the inside?

    The broader X1 range was given a huge upgrade for 2023, with a screen-heavy overhaul that drags it into line with its German rivals.

    The M35i ups the ante further with a special orangey-red and black colour scheme, a fat M steering wheel with a red 12 o’clock marker, and a smattering of M motifs. It’s a pretty handsome beast, and is far better rounded and thought out than the slightly undercooked cabin of the last compact BMW M Sport SUV, the X2.

    The curved dual-screen dashboard is a shrunken take on what’s on offer in the flagship iX SUV and the latest 3 Series, running the flashy new Android-based BMW iDrive 9 software.

    There’s no rotary iDrive dial anymore, with all the major controls instead housed in the touchscreen.

    The digital dash in particular is a huge improvement over the analogue setup in the last X1 and the 10.7-inch central screen is crystal clear, with some of the nicest graphics out there. BMW has poured some serious time and effort into making all the transitions, backgrounds, and menus look and feel incredibly polished.

    It is a bit of a reach to get to the screen, and passengers might struggle to prod the shortcut buttons sitting on the right-hand side of the central display. It’s a shame BMW has moved away from physical climate controls, too.

    At least you can turn on the heated seats without diving through menus in this car, and the silly subscription-activated options debuted on the base X1 have been booted. Turns out people just want to buy a car, rather than turning features on and off.

    The seats in this M35i are lovely. They look special, with integrated headrests and light-up M logos in their backrests, and they offer proper big-car comfort on long hauls. At six-seven it was easy for me to get comfortable, with plenty of under-thigh support in particular for around 12 hours on the road traipsing between two country weddings.

    Although it’s quite a big car now, with dimensions knocking on the door of the first-generation X3, it doesn’t feel massive as you look out over the sculpted bonnet, which is in keeping with the M35i’s pitch as an overgrown hot hatch.

    BMW had made huge strides in a number of key areas up front relative to the model that came before. Not only does the floating central tunnel look dramatic, it frees up much more usable storage space than was previously on offer.

    The wireless phone charger now has space for a modern iPhone, and the underarm bin has room for wallets and keys now. There’s also an open place where the transmission tunnel used to sit, although it’s not ideal if you actually want to hide your valuables away when the car is locked.

    It can also be hard to reach snacks wedged between the seats from the driver’s seat, with the chubby (and electrically adjustable) seat bolsters getting in the way.

    For the most part, the materials on the places you touch feel high-quality – the dash, doors, and central tunnel are good, the lower dash and door pockets less so – and it looks properly modern.

    Rather than a dressed-up Mini, it feels like a proper BMW SUV. But some of the things we let the X1 get away with in the base model don’t really fly in a $90k take on the formula.

    It’s obvious costs have been cut in a few places, from the hinge of the central bin (tailored for left-hand drive, which makes it awkward for the driver) to the slightly wobbly door grabs.

    Rear seat space is very good for the class. Rather than a dingy hatchback on stilts, the tall windows and high roofline make this feel like a proper SUV back there. At risk of providing too little information, my normal-height girlfriend spent six hours back there sitting behind another normal-height adult and described it as “amazing, loved it, no complaints”.

    Air vents and USB-C ports feature back there, and the bench slides to allow legroom or boot space to be prioritised depending on what you’re doing.

    If you are carrying kids, the doors open nice and wide to make loading them into a car seat easier than before. Adults climbing out of there will also appreciate that change.

    Boot space is an impressive 540 litres on paper, expanding to 1600 litres with the 40/20/40 second row folded flat. That first figure is almost on a par with what you get in an X3, but in practice the X1 doesn’t have the same amount of usable space.

    That isn’t a big issue – it has a boot bigger than what’s offered by a Q3 or GLA, with a low floor and broad opening – but a chunk of that quoted space is beneath the flip-up floor, meaning in practice it’s still a size class below the X3.

    It easily took all the bags required for three people attending a wedding, and you’ll get a set of golf clubs in without too much stress.

    What’s under the bonnet?

    This is the most powerful BMW X1 yet; the previous-generation model wasn’t offered in M35i guise.

    Its outputs are now up there with what we’ve come to expect from the Volkswagen Golf (and T-Roc) R, along with the range-topping Cupra Formentor VZx.

    The more expensive Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 packs 8kW less, and has the same amount of torque.

    ModelBMW X1 M35i
    Engine2.0L 4cyl turbo
    Power233kW
    Torque400Nm
    Transmission7-speed dual-clutch auto
    Driven wheelsAll-wheel drive
    Weight1665kg (kerb)
    Fuel economy (claim)7.8L/100km
    Fuel economy (observed)6.8L/100km (highway driving)
    Fuel tank size54 litres
    Fuel requirement95 RON

    To see how the BMW X1 stacks up alongside its rivals, use our comparison tool.

    How does the BMW X1 drive?

    Prod the neatly integrated start button, and the X1 bursts to life with a flare of revs. It’s a hint of fanfare in a car that, if you weren’t trying, hides its performance behind a pretty impressive veneer of refinement.

    With the BMW IconicSounds fake exhaust sound system turned off there’s a subtle growl to the engine; turn it on and there’s a synthesised bark that feels more in keeping with the M Sport branding. We’re well past the era of BMWs needing to sound like sonorous inline-sixes.

    My overriding memory of the X2 M35i was how awkward it was at low speeds. The start/stop system was jerky, the transmission was indecisive in traffic, and the 2.0-litre engine had way more lag than was acceptable.

    This new one is an altogether more polished beast. At low speeds the start/stop is much smoother than before, and the way it shifts on medium or heavy throttle is way more refined than the clunky unit in its predecessor.

    Despite the M Sport badging and aggressive exterior, this is an easy car to drive in town. Visibility is refreshingly good over-the-shoulder thanks to the practical glasshouse, and the steering is light enough to park with a pinky in Comfort mode.

    You do notice some tugging from the wheel over cambered roads, no doubt due to the stickier and wider Continental sports tyres that come with the M35i, but it’s not unbearable. The last X1 felt like a Mini or 1 Series dressed up to look and feel like a bigger BMW SUV, whereas the new one carries itself more like a shrunken X3.

    That carries over to the highway. With 400Nm on tap between 2000 and 4000rpm, it squirts from 60km/h to 110km/h in a real hurry on your way out of country towns, and overtakes on single-lane divided roads fly by after a hint of hesitation from the dual-clutch transmission on kick down.

    Unless you were really listening for it, you wouldn’t be aware of the potency lurking within.

    The engine is ticking over at above 2000rpm at 110km/h, but it’s silent at a cruise without a hint of vibration or buzzing through the steering wheel. Multiple passengers asked if the X1 was electric on the highway, which speaks to how refined the powertrain is.

    Ride quality is also excellent, given this is a small, sporty SUV on big wheels. It doesn’t crash and bash over big potholes, and although there’s a sense its mass is tightly controlled it doesn’t have your head rocking and rolling around.

    What isn’t ideal is the noise suppression, which puts the Mercedes-AMG GLA in the shade… but is still ultimately a weak point on pitted Australian country highways. There’s minimal wind noise, but those tyres transmit a lot of static-ish noise into the cabin at 110km/h.

    You can crank up the (excellent) Harman Kardon sound system to drown it out, but it’s a nod to the fact this is ultimately built on a city-oriented platform in place of the more expensive rear-wheel drive setup in the X3.

    The active driver assists in the car are exceptional. The adaptive cruise control never acts up (although it’s still a pain to change the following distance through the screen, which is something I do regularly in most cars), and the steering assist was so subtle I didn’t realise it was active until it was turned off.

    They do exactly what you actually want of a driver assist, making life easier for drivers without taking over their roles entirely.

    BMW has clearly made strides with its all-wheel drive system when you’re in a hurry. Rather than feeling like a front-wheel drive car with a rear driveshaft along for the ride as was previously the case, the way the torque is actively split between the front and rear axle makes the new X1 feel much livelier than before.

    It’s seriously sticky, with a front end that goes where you want it to when you muscle the chunky M Sport steering wheel around, and excellent body control in Sport mode. It really hangs on in the wet, with the sort of all-weather performance we’ve come to expect from all-wheel drive Volkswagen R products.

    What do you get?

    The new BMW X1 is a more generously equipped vehicle than those before it.

    X1 sDrive18i highlights:

    • 18-inch alloy wheels
    • Adaptive LED headlights
    • Power tailgate
    • Keyless entry and start
    • 10.7-inch touchscreen infotainment system
    • 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster
    • Satellite navigation with augmented reality view
    • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
    • BMW Live Cockpit Professional
    • Parking Assistant Plus
    • Reversing Assistant
    • Connected Package Professional
    • Drive Recorder
    • Mirror Package with anti-dazzle and auto-dipping functions
    • Head-up display
    • Sensatec leatherette upholstery
    • Sensatec-wrapped instrument panel
    • Front sports seats
    • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
    • Dual-zone climate control
    • Automatic headlights
    • Rain-sensing wipers
    • 4 x USB-C ports
    • 2 x 12V power outlets

    X1 xDrive20i adds:

    • 19-inch alloy wheels
    • Heated front seats
    • Power front seats
    • Driving Assistant Professional with Steering and Lane Control Assistant

    X1 M35i xDrive adds:

    • 20-inch M light alloy wheels (Y-spoke style)
    • M Sport brakes with blue high-gloss calipers
    • High-gloss black roof rails
    • Four exhaust outlets
    • Comfort Access
    • Digital Key Plus
    • Panoramic glass sunroof
    • 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system
    • M leather steering wheel
    • Paddle shifters
    • Front sports seats

    Is the BMW X1 safe?

    The BMW X1 has a five-star ANCAP safety rating with a 2022 date stamp, based on testing conducted by Euro NCAP.

    It received 86 per cent for adult occupant protection, 88 per cent for child occupant protection, 76 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 94 per cent for safety assist.

    Standard safety equipment includes:

    • AEB incl. Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
    • Blind-spot monitoring
    • Lane-keep assist
    • Rear cross-traffic alert
    • Safe exit warning
    • Traffic sign recognition
    • Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
    • Surround-view camera
    • Front, rear parking sensors

    How much does the BMW X1 cost to run?

    BMW offers a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty in Australia.

    Maintenance is required every 12 months or 20,000 kilometres in the X1, and a five-year ‘Basic’ service plan will set you back $1800 if purchased upfront.

    CarExpert’s Take on the BMW X1

    This is a really well-rounded performance SUV that improve on the mistakes made by its predecessors.

    The first small BMW performance crossover was the X2 M35i. It felt cobbled together, blending an awkward engine and transmission with a clunky four-wheel drive system, and the interior was miles off the pace.

    When it comes to performance, the new X1 rights those wrongs. It feels muscular when you put your foot down, with a smoother and smarter dual-clutch transmission (that still lags slightly behind the best from Volkswagen) than before, and a more sophisticated four-wheel drive system.

    A well-driven X1 M35i shapes as a pretty potent wet-weather weapon. Beyond the performance aspect, this is a much more grown up beast than before. It rides well enough to be properly usable on long trips, the cabin is worthy of the price (or close to it), and it’s fit for family life in ways its predecessor just wasn’t.

    I like it, and I’d very happily live with it every day.

    Click an image for the full gallery

    MORE: Buy a BMW X1
    MORE: Everything BMW X1

    Scott Collie

    Scott Collie is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Scott studied journalism at RMIT University and, after a lifelong obsession with everything automotive, started covering the car industry shortly afterwards. He has a passion for travel, and is an avid Melbourne Demons supporter.

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    Overall Rating
    8.3
    Cost of Ownership8.5
    Ride Comfort8.5
    Safety9.3
    Fit for Purpose8
    Handling Dynamics8.5
    Interior Practicality and Space8.5
    Fuel Efficiency8
    Value for Money7.5
    Performance8
    Technology Infotainment8.5

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