2020 BMW X1 sDrive18d Review

There’s a real chance that the 2020 BMW X1 will be the first BMW to many new buyers and more than likely not the last. With a healthy price of $49,900, in sDrive18d spec the BMW X1 is well within reach of buyers who may have been looking at a top spec offering from more mainstream brands yet crave something with a more premium badge.

On looks alone the BMW X1 makes a strong case for itself with aggressive headlights and the iconic kidney grille giving the front end a uniquely BMW appearance. Large 18-inch alloy rims clad in 225/50 profile rubber fill out the wheel arches and it’s those low profile tyres that signal the X1 has its focus on the bitumen rather than the gravel offerings of Australia’s road network.

As the 2020 BMW X1 is a refresh model the changes in styling from the prior model are subtle with the most noticeable alterations found in the rear thanks to a new taillight design. The final result is an SUV that has character and road presence, the front end has a tough and serious aura to it and the designers have done an ample job of keeping the X1 visual modern.

The reserved and focused design continues inwards to the interior, there’s no risky off the wall styling to be seen here as it’s all very serious, functional and business like. Material selection is up to BMW’s usual high standards with plenty of brushed metal highlights, soft touch surfaces and piano gloss black used throughout. Personally I’d have opted for the no cost option of brushed aluminium trim to break the majority black and grey design. BMW offers a number of options to add character to the X1’s interior design however they almost all take on a very conservative approach and struggle to add character.

Practicality on the other hand is excellent with functional design taking the spotlight, every control and switch is where you’d expect it to be and easily accessed when focused on driving. Infotainment is controlled via either the touch screen or BMW’s iDrive controller which unfortunately hasn’t been updated to feature the touchpad on top of the dial as found in other models. Though to be fair, it’s not the easiest touch pad to use if you’re right handed. The voice controls have been well implemented and I found myself using them more frequently as time went on proving they are a functional substitute for touch activated controls.

The front seats are plenty comfortable and the electronically adjustable side bolsters allow them to grip you firmly for enhanced cornering control, part of the $2,500 optional M Sport package. When it comes to visibility most SUV’s struggle due to a combination of thick A and C pillars and the X1 is no different. The rising window line makes head checking for lane changes a challenge, blind spot monitoring would be a huge benefit here yet is sadly an optional item. Making things even more challenging is both the small rear window and rear view camera which doesn’t make use of all of the available screen real estate, a good portion is shared with the proximity sensor graphics with no option to expand the camera section.

Those who’ll be using the rear seats will have little to complain about as there’s generous room all around for 3 children or two adults. Easy to access ISOFIX mounting points can be found on both outer seats while the rear of the center console features dual USB charging ports and a small storage pocket, though rear ventilation would be preferred. Further storage can be found in the door trims along with the rear of the front seats which score elastic netting mesh and finally there’s twin drink holders from the drop down centre arm rest.

The 40/20/40 split folding rear seats can be dropped near flat to open up the boot space to a maximum of 1,550 litres and when raised you’ve still got a generous 505 litres available. Loading heavy and bulky items won’t have you blowing your back out thanks to the flat boot floor and metal scuff plates. Raising up the floor reveals additional storage and there’s also easily accessible storage bins flanking the sides. All that’s lacking is an easier way to lower the rear seats as they can’t be lowered from the boot forcing you to run around to both sides of the car to drop them.

There’s a few odd quirks that the X1 has built in that should be addressed such as the door locks. Decades of using door locks has taught me that if I push the little lock stub down, it’s going to lock the doors, but not in the X1 as they only exist as a visual feedback mechanism. Proximity entry is again a cost option so if not fitted you’ll be constantly fumbling through your pockets to grab your keys, you do get keyless start but why not go the extra step and provide keyless entry as standard as well?

There’s points of praise to be made too, particularly the cruise control switches on the wheel which allow quick and intuitive adjustment. The toggle switch allows for accurate speed increments with a half click while a full click allows you to jump up or down more in larger steps and finally you can click and hold to cycle all the way up or down to your desired speed. You won’t find climate control in the sDrive18d spec X1 but you do get a simple and easy to use AC system that isn’t flanked with a million distracting buttons.

Packed under the bonnet lies the 2.0-litre turbo intercooled diesel engine that’s good for a modest 110kW @ 4,000 rpm and more importantly a hefty 330Nm of torque from 1,750 to 2,750 rpm. For day to day driving it’s torque that you want and the X1’s engine spoils you here, quick pick up off the line and plenty of mid range grunt, so much so that there’s even a hint of torque steer when you keep your foot down. The automatic gearbox responsible for getting power to the wheels has 8 gears at its disposal and shifts are timely on both the up and down shift keeping you in the right gear for the occasion.

BMW’s engine idle stop/start technology is one of the best around and never intrudes in your desired operation of the car. It’s not seamless as you’ll notice the deactivation and reactivation but it transitions so quickly between the two that there’s never a hesitation in getting the power down from a stop. Speaking of fuel economy we managed a best of 5.9L/100km with the majority of that occurring on open freeways. BMW claims that 5.3L/100km can be had with a mix of urban and freeway driving which after testing appears rather optimistic.

Brakes are easily up to the task of bringing the X1 to a stop providing solid feedback throughout the whole range, they are on the sensitive side which can take time to adjust to but work a treat when needed. Suspension too is dialled in nicely thanks to the addition of the $2,500 M Sport Package option which includes M Sport suspension and a selection of other styling additions. Things are firmer overall with a responsive turn in that only has the car become unsettled as the weight transfers mid corner, from then on it’s predictable and composed. It’s a fun little machine to hustle at pace and combined with those lovely sports seats, will have you in full control on the more enjoyable roads out there. Around town the firmer ride is noticeable over poor surfaces yet overall it’s still a comfortable daily driver.

The keen eyed among you will have noticed that the BMW X1 loaned to us had a few extra options added to the mix in the form of the panoramic sunroof, black Dakota leather upholstery, the aforementioned M Sport Package and metallic paintwork. A point of praise for BMW is that when it does come to flashing some more cash to spec up your car, they don’t charge an arm and a leg to do so like their fellow European brethren. Instead they group up their options into a number of different packages as well as provide them independently allowing you to dial everything in to your exact needs.

For the audiophiles out there, one option you’ll be sure to tick the box on would be the Harman/Kardon 12-speaker surround sound system upgrade as the standard stereo is on the average side and I was expecting better performance out of it. The good news is that the BMW X1 does come with a healthy compliment of features as standard:

  • Park distance control (front/rear)
  • Speed limited cruise control with brake limiter
  • Satellite navigation
  • Auto dipping high beams
  • LED headlights
  • Parking assistance with automated steering
  • DAB+ radio with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Auto rain sensing wipers
  • Roof rails
  • Speed sign recognition
  • Voice recognition
  • Wireless Charging

Safety is naturally up to par as well thanks to:

  • Collision Mitigation
  • Collision Warning
  • Corner braking control
  • Brake Emergency Display
  • Lane departure warning
  • Rear vision camera

Naturally the higher grade iterations of the X1 come with more gear but the standard spec is on the impressive side with plenty of premium features included all while keeping pricing sensible.


Design & Comfort


Performance & Handling






Equipment & Features




Our Score: 4/5

+ Plus

  • Stylish and bold appearance
  • Practical design and plenty of passenger and cargo room
  • Premium fit and finish


  • Interior styling lacks character
  • Keyless entry and blindspot monitoring should be standard
  • Not as thrifty on fuel as advertised


The updated BMW X1 in sDrive18d M Sport guise makes a compelling argument for itself to those looking for a stylish and more polished compact SUV. There’s hints of BMW motoring performance and the well thought out practical design make it a joy during the week and weekends. The well priced options list gives you the chance to tailor the X1 to your exacting desires without breaking the bank and combined with the approachable starting price make it a strong contender in our books.

2019 BMW X1 sDrive18d M Sport Pricing and Specification

Price (Excl. on-road costs)From: $49,900

Options added:
Metallic paintwork: $1,308
Panorama glass roof: $1,890
Leather ‘Dakota’ in Black upholstery: $2,000
M Spor Package: $2,500

As tested: $57,598

Warranty3 Years/Unlimited Kilometres
Warranty Customer Assistance3 Year Roadside
Country of OriginGermany
Service Intervals12 months/25,000km
Engine2.0-litre turbo intercooled four cylinder diesel

110kW @ 4000rpm, 330Nm @ 1750-2750rpm

Transmission8 Speed Sports Automatic
DrivetrainFront-wheel drive
Power to Weight Ratio (W/kg)74.9
Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km)Claimed: 5.3 / Tested: 5.9
RON Ratingn/a
Fuel Capacity (L)61
Body5-door SUV, 5 seats
Safety5-star ANCAP, 6 Airbags, Brake Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Speed Zone Reminder, Seatbelt Load Limiters & Pre-Tensioners (front), Reverse Camera, Forward Collision Mitigation (low speed), Forward Collision Warning, Park Distance Control (front/rear), Tyre Pressure Monitoring, Brake Emergency Display, Corner Braking Control, Anti-Lock Braking System, Brake Emergency Display, Brake Assist, Traction Control, Stability Control, Electronic Brake Force Distribution.
Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm4447/1821/1598/2670
Kerb Weight (kg)1,510
Boot Space (Expanded) (L)505 (1,550)
Towing Capacity (kg)Braked: 1800 / Unbraked: 750
Entertainment10.25-inch colour touchscreen with satellite navigation, 6 speakers, Bluetooth, USB/AUX, Android Auto / Apple CarPlay


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