2011 BMW X1 xDrive28i test drive conducted by our German online magazine, BimmerToday

When it comes to actual SUV capabilities, many of us know that the Sports Activity Vehicles are not comparable to other SUV manufacturers. Despite the raised seating position and strong performance, the BMW SAVs are more suitable to for the Munich roads rather than on the slopes.

But the question is: does the BMW X1 even fall into the SAV category? Does it act more like a Lifestyle Product, only formally carrying the “X title” in its name, and otherwise portraying a practical alternative to a BMW 1 Series?

We will leave the classification up to each individual, but after only a few meters spent driving in the X1 xDrive28i, one can tell that this SAV feels more comfortable on the asphalt. The suspension is more reminiscent of a sport-tuned 3 Series than an SUV, but that has always been a characteristic of a BMW Sports Activity Vehicle.


Anyone who would like can choose to have a sporty “ride” with the X1, thanks to the optional Performance Control which entertains the idea that they are cruising around in a practical and marginal less sporty all-wheel drive version of the BMW 130i.

In addition, the 6 speed automatic contributes to the loss of driving pleasure compared to the 130i. Even though the automatic transmission can be controlled via the paddle shifters placed on the steering wheel, in our opinion, fans of manual transmission will still consider it unsuitable. The 8 speed automatic is a different story, but it is not available on the X1 for obvious reasons.

When you are controlling the gears and you want quick and powerful acceleration, above 3000 rpms, then you will be rewarded with zero lag. Otherwise if you are simply letting the automatic do the work for you, then you must abide by the rules and wait for the right gear to kick in before you can make use of all 258 horsepower.

On the autobahn, the speedometer climbs effortlessly past the 200 km/h mark, but it is best to ignore the consumption at this point. Overall, the consumption of the X1 is approx 12 liters/100km (19.6 mpg).

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In our view, the more powerful xDrive23d would better fit the character of an SUV. Driving impressions are important and in this case are related to the use of a six-speed automatic, but apart from this, there aren’t many negative aspects to report. the criticism is thus essentially depend on the six-speed automatic, because apart from this piece of technology there is little negative to report. In comparison to a competitor, such as the VW Tiguan, the X1 places itself as the typical sporty alternative. Thanks to the tail-heavy design of the X1 all-wheel drive, understeer is largely unfamiliar.

If too quickly driven into a curve, the driving neutrality of the vehicle is restored with the optional Performance Control. xDrive and Performance Control makes the X1 a master of the curves. In combination with variable working xDrive, the X1 possesses a high level of traction and stays on track without operating errors. The 1.7 ton weight of the X1 only becomes apparent around very tight turns, otherwise this flaw can be easily concealed by perfected engineering.

In contrary to the driving, the interior was not able to convince us completely. Of course, all the controls, buttons and elements that you touch every time you are driving are executed very well, and have a nice feel , but on the other hand, almost every part that you are not touching in your daily driving is of a poor quality and less pleasant tactile feeling. Some may argue that the quality of these of parts you are usually not touching are not that important, but we certainly cannot give any bonus-points.

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This is somehow disappointing because despite the lower quality of materials, the interior is really well done. The seats feel just right, the steering wheel can be put into every position you could ever want and even the operation of the very extensive infotainment-system is really intuitive. You can reach every button with comfort and of course they are positioned where you are expecting them as a BMW driver.

The 8.8 inch infotainment-display does not only show you the navigation system, but it is also connected to the internet (at least in Europe) thanks to the ConnectedDrive feature, and also displays the Rear View-camera system. Since the X1 does not offer a very good view towards the back of the car, this option can come handy very quickly.

The interior also offers a lot of practical solutions for every day usage. You can find elastic belts in the doors to fix smaller or larger luggage, and you also have plenty cup-holders for all kind of bottles. The angle of the back rest is variable and therefore it depends on your settings how much luggage you can carry. As you can see in our pictures, it makes quite a difference in the extra room offered, but the seating-comfort suffers a lot as well.



In summary the BMW X1 is a nice ride that could convince us to buy it for several reasons: it offers enough space for almost every day use, and provides superb driving dynamics for a car this size. The fuel consumption is good as well – in relation to the engine performance.

Price wise, if you order some of the many options available, you can easily pass the 50.000 euros mark for the X1 xDrive28i model. But unfortunately, the interior quality cannot satisfy the expectations that come with such a pricetag.  The engine and drivetrain compensate for this shortcoming, and the driver is awarded a very fast response and a nice sound. Obviously, the response depends on the setting of the automatic gearbox, as long as you don’t surprise it with sudden kickdowns and choose the correct gear via the paddels before the acceleration, everything is perfect.


If you can afford it and you are looking for a small soft-offroader,  the X1 is certainly a recommendation because you will not find better driving dynamics or a comparable infotainment-system anywhere in this class. The X1 earns some sympathy-points for its clever solutions in the interior design as well, and some of these small features are embraced despite the lower quality of its materials, something we can forgive if the driving experience and dynamics are at the top of the game.