New BMW X1 review: Cheeky SUV transforms into thing of beauty

Standing almost in a trance, I couldn’t help but feel that there was a little bit of black magic at play as I collected the new BMW X1.

ore affectionately known as the runt of the SUV litter, this cheeky imp has truly transformed into a thing of proper beauty.

Maybe it was the matte finish on the gorgeous Frozen Pure Grey paint, the oversized piano-black kidney grille, matching air scoops in the lower apron or the mouth-watering, 20-inch multi-spoke M alloys.

Perhaps it’s the mesmerising 3D hook-shaped light clusters at the rear, the deep roof spoiler or the mega detailing in the lower bumper – again, finished in high gloss black.

It also has the capacity to charge at up to 130kW, meaning a 30-80pc top-up will take less than 30 minutes.

Or maybe it was the magic which unfolded as I opened the door to be greeted with a cabin worthy of a 7-Series.

The Oyster Vernasca leather upholstery, the chunky three-spoked heated steering wheel and the fully digital cockpit dominated by the same curved display found in the iX – all casting a spell.

Now in its third generation, this little baby has grown in both size and stature – expanding by 53mm in length, 24mm in width and 44mm in height.

Its wheelbase is now 2,692mm – 22mm longer than before, while its track widths have increased by 31mm front and rear.

In layman’s terms, the new offering is closer in size to the old X3 and not far off the X5.

In fact, from the front it is nigh on impossible to tell the difference.

The new model comes as standard with slim LED headlights with a distinctive graphic that splits the lights into three units for the low beam, high beam and daytime driving – the last of which includes the indicators.

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The modern interior is equipped with the BMW Curved Display

Powering the new X1 is a choice of two petrols, one diesel, plug-in, mild hybrid and for the first time, a fully electric version.

Power outputs range from 150-326bhp from either three- or four-cylinder petrols with a promised electric driving range of between 77-88km. The iX EV boasts a range of up to 438km and the all-wheel drive set-up generates the equivalent of 313bhp and a 0-100kmh sprint in just 5.6 seconds.

It also has the capacity to charge at up to 130kW, meaning a 30-80pc top-up will take less than 30 minutes.

All petrol and diesel engines are mated to a seven-speed Steptronic transmission with double clutch as standard.

Adaptive M suspension features on all top-end models, including the plug-in hybrids and iX1, and is standard on the BMW iX1 xDrive30 xLine.

The SUV also comes loaded with a state-of-the-art safety kit including a new front-collision warning system with brake intervention.

If the car detects a pedestrian or cyclist nearby it will automatically halt if either gets too close.

We tested the flagship xDrive 23i, a 2.0-litre petrol unit with 218bhp, which proved more than enough to haul its hulking body.

Acceleration was brisk and the gear changes seamless, even when driven aggressively.

Handling was excellent too given the lofty drive position, but the larger 20-inch wheels made the ride a tad choppy, especially around town.

That said, it proved a super comfy cruiser and left us pleasantly surprised by how economical it is – returning around 40mpg (7.1 litres/100km).

It’s definitely no longer the runt and those looking for a decent-sized crossover will be well impressed. I know, I certainly was.

Prices for the new BMW X1 start at €48,200.

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