Review: BMW X1 sDrive18i SUV – A Very Stylish and Sophisticated SUV

Versatile and compact SUV that blends agility and efficiency for the modern city adventurer

The BMW X1 is the smallest SUV in the BMW lineup, but don’t let its size fool you. This third-generation model is loaded with features and performance capabilities that make it a perfect choice for those looking for a stylish and sophisticated SUV with a side of cool technology.

We sampled the BMW X1 sDrive18i in Cape York Green metallic with the Sensatec perforated Black interior with aluminium ‘Mesheffect’ trimming and 19″ light alloy V-spoke Bicolour wheels.

BMW X1 - Stylish and Sophisticated
BMW X1 in Cape York Green metallic

Introduction to the BMW X1

The latest BMW X1 offers a sleek and sophisticated design that is 5.3 cm longer and 4.4 cm higher than the model it replaces. It has 2.2 cm more ground clearance and offers 4% more cargo space. It is perfect for those who want a small SUV with plenty of features and performance capabilities in the city as well as the occasional cruise. The X1 has been around since 2015 and is still popular today – it was BMWs fourth most popular model in 2022, thanks in part to its stylish design and excellent performance.

The new BMW X1 is built on the UKL2 platform and comes in two ICE versions and will be joined by the iX1 in 2023.

Overview of the BMW X1 Design

The BMW X1 is known for its sleek and sophisticated design. This latest version features a modern look with a bold kidney grille and extremely good octagonal BMW LED headlights. At the rear, the BMW X1 has more angular DNA very similar to the soon-to-be-released, BMW XM.

Inside, the X1 has a spacious cabin with plenty of room for passengers and cargo. The interior is modern and stylish, with a wealth of features. This particular BMW X1 also features several options in the ‘Enhancement’ package, including metallic paint, a panorama glass sunroof, and Driving Assistant Professional.

The BMW X1 also has a number of advanced safety and security features, including:

  • Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)
  • Anti-lock Braking System
    (ABS)
  • Braking Assistant
  • Cornering Brake Control (CBC)
  • Dynamic Traction Control

These features make the BMW X1 an excellent choice for those who want a safe and secure ride.

BMW X1 - Stylish and Sophisticated
BMW X1 sDrive18i in Cape York Green metallic

What’s New with the 2023 BMW X1

The 2023 BMW X1 has a few new features that make it even better than before. The exterior of the X1 has been updated with a fresh new design that gives it a modern and sophisticated look thanks to the design ‘halo effect’ from other models in the ‘X’ range.

The X1 sDrive 18i retains the B38 1.5L turbocharged three-cylinder engine that produces 100kW and 220Nm of torque through the front wheels. The X1 xDrive 20i carries over the B48 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine, producing 150kW and 300Nm of torque driving all four wheels. Neither engine is going to win quarter-mile drag races, however mated to the 7 speed automatic gearbox with double clutch, the BMW X1 happily darts around town and enjoys the occasional cruise. Our week with the X1 saw us cover 788km and average 7L/100km (33.6mpg). Not bad at all.

The interior of the X1 also has been completely updated with a brilliant new infotainment system that packs a host of new features and technologies. A single, curved high-resolution screen contains the 10.25” digital instrument display and a 10.7” touch display running BMW Operating System 8. BMW calls this experience ‘BMW Live Cockpit Professional’.

BMW X1 – Live Cockpit Professional

I think the most wonderful component of the Live Cockpit is the BMW Intelligent Assistant voice control. Simply say “Hello BMW…” followed by a command; “Change the interior lighting to blue”. “Set the temperature to 20C”. “Close all the windows”. and “Play my Drake playlist”. Historically, voice commands in cars have underwhelmed. Once you customise it to your preferences, your driving experience is changed forever! BMW has nailed it.

BMW Personal Assistant

Tech Capabilities of the BMW X1

The step up and forward in technology is, I think where the BMW X1 marches miles ahead of the immediate competition from Mercedes-Benz and Audi. Here are the headlines (some of which we’ve already touched on:

  • Driving Assistant Professional
  • BMW ConnectedDrive
  • BMW Live Cockpit Professional
  • Comfort Access

Each of these systems, in very clever ways, combines to make the day-to-day driving experience of the BMW X1 quite remarkable – even more so when you consider that this is a $60,000 car (excl on-road costs).

Driving Assistant Professional

The standard Driving Assistant safety package on every X1 includes Lane Change Warning with active return, rear crossing traffic warning and rear collision and exit warning. Driving Assistant Plus further includes Distance Control (Active Cruise Control with Stop&Go), route control, Automatic Speed Limit Assist, Speed Limit Display with no-overtaking indicator and pre-warning, and Steering and Lane Control Assistant up to 180 km/h. Driving Assistant Professional (part of the ‘Enhancement’ package) additionally offers, among other things, Steering and Lane Control Assistant, as well as Lane Keeping Assistant with active side collision protection, front and rear crossing traffic warning, and Road Priority Warning and Wrong-way Warning.

BMW ConnectedDrive

BMW ConnectedDrive has been around for quite some time now, and as the name suggests, it controls all the over-the-air functions of any BMW. Wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto (which I’ll return to later). Remote Services, including vehicle location, service bookings, and ventilation. Real-Time Traffic Information for maps and navigation, Concierge Services and USB Map updates. All are part of a three-year subscription.

BMW Live Cockpit Professional

This is a tricky one. Android Auto and Apple Carplay have redefined what the in-car experience can be for almost a decade now. The BMW Live Cockpit Professional allows you to customise widgets on the main 10.7” touch display essential information. This can be anything from live weather to sports information, traffic delays, and messages from your phone. In the BMW X1, the Live Cockpit Professional can set your preferred driving modes – called My Modes. Each can be tailored to you and is easy to call up anytime.

BMW Live Cockpit Professional

Comfort Access

The Comfort Access system takes care of the keys and accessing the X1 in some very clever ways. The BMW X1 comes with two keys which you can customise to you and your partner’s preference. I love it when I get into my BMW, and everything is just how I like it. The same goes for my wife.

With the latest version of BMW Operating System 8, and the My BMW app, you can also use your compatible smartphone to unlock your car as your approach it and share a key with one of the kids (who are notorious for losing things like expensive BMW keys)!

Creating a Digital Key for the BMW X1

Safety and Security Features of the BMW X1

The stylish and sophisticated BMW X1 is equipped with a host of advanced safety and security features. It has a number of driver-assist features, incl. blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane change warning, front collision warning with brake intervention, rear crossing traffic warning, rear collision prevention. There are also 12 parking sensors, so you can always be aware of your surroundings.

Further safety features include the Mirror Package provides Interior and driver-side exterior mirrors with automatic anti-dazzle function, folding-in function, and passenger-side mirror auto dipping function for parking. Parking Assistant Plus adds Parking Assistant with Active Park Distance Control front & rear, Reversing Assistant, 360° Surround View, Panorama View, 3D View and Drive Recorder.

The BMW X1 also has a number of passive safety features, such as 8 airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners so it’s no surprise that the X1 has a 5-star safety rating. These features all make the X1 a great choice for those who want a safe and secure ride.

Pricing and Trim Levels of the BMW X1

This took me a little while to wrap my head around. The 2023 BMW X1 is available in two stylish and sophisticated trim levels: the X1 sDrive18i and the X1 xDrive20i. The iX1 xDrive30 is coming later in 2023.

The X1 sDrive18i has a starting price of $56,400. The X1 xDrive20i has a starting price of $68,400. Both then have the option of the Enhancement packages, which add between $4,000 and $6,000 to the price. The X1 xDrive20i also has the M-Sport package available, which adds $3,000 to the price. The 19″ wheels on our test car are an additional $2,000. Unlike other models, it’s not too complicated and for a very reasonable price you can have an exceptional daily driver with space, luxury, and safety aplenty.

Living Day-to-Day with the BMW X1

BMWs take a bit of getting used to and customising, but once you get that sorted, they are usually pretty damn good. The new tech on the BMW X1 will bewilder some, but take your time – it will be worth it. I advise getting the Comfort Access (keys etc) just right – that will make life much easier. Then get the seating sorted – which is linked to Comfort Access.

Apple Car Play and Android Auto are very hard to ignore and work brilliantly. Even more so in the BMW X1, where they are wireless. My only word of caution here is that I found that using ACP and AA wirelessly with the high-power Qi spec wireless phone charger, my iPhone 12 Pro got very, very hot and, on a couple of occasions, stopped working due to the heat. If you don’t mind the cable, I’d use that as the connection to your phone. The BMW X1 several USB-C plugs in the front and in the rear. No excuses for not having a fully-charged smartphone.

BMW X1
BMW X1 harman/kardon Sound System

On The Road

The driving position and overall dynamics of the BMW X1 are very familiar if you’ve driven a BMW before. Everything is where you expect it, and if it doesn’t feel quite right, muscle memory kicks in pretty quickly. The gear selector was a bit of a fiddle for me. There’s a clearly labelled R-N-D/L for the various gear selections, but no P? It took me a day or two to twig that the ‘P’ in Parking Brake also engaged P. Sorted.

The steering is beautifully light around town, and parking is a breeze. Yes, there are onboard parking tools, but for me, old-school is best. Visibility to almost every angle is clear, and 12 parking sensors do the heavy lifting. The 1.5L three-cylinder engine copes very well, but there is a bit of turbo lag when you ask for considerable acceleration at short notice.

In terms of space, the latest BMW X1 is impressive. Neither of my tall teenage children complained about being in the back. Getting a third teen in there would be a bit of a squeeze, but a family of four will be very comfortable. Luggage space is more than adequate for school bags, dogs, shopping and golf clubs. With the back seats folded down, the luggage space increases from 540L to 1600L.

BMW X1 – 560L of Luggage Space

On the open road, the BMW X1 sDrive18L gets along surprisingly well. It might be a different story if we had it loaded to the gunnels. The typical BMW build quality covers the road noise, and the 7-speed transmission keeps the momentum up as the terrain changes. The brakes on the X1, too are very good. On a hot summer’s day a twisty B-road did call for a few firm braking moments, and there was very little fade.

Technology & Creature Comforts

I wrote earlier about the exceptional BMW LED headlights. I’ve experienced them on a BMW X5, but they go to a new level in the X1. The High Beam Assist feature seems to ignore the laws of physics and “throw” light onto the kerb-side and around other vehicles. You will not believe your eyes.

BMW X1
BMW X1 LED Headlights

The final item I must call out is the 10-speaker Harman/Kardon Hi-Fi system. The sound quality in a $65,000 car was genuinely not that far off the Bentley Continental GTC Speed we reviewed last year. The steering wheel-mounted audio controls make is super easy to move from track to track and jack up the volume when that perfect song comes on.

Conclusion

The 2023 BMW X1 is the perfect choice for a stylish and sophisticated SUV with a host of features, innate luxury, and performance capabilities. The latest BMW X1 has an edgy yet sophisticated design and a host of driver-centric features and technology. It also has several advanced safety and security features, making it an excellent choice for those who want a safe and secure ride.

The driving experience of the X1 is pure BMW, and thanks to the current design philosophy of BMW’s Head of Design, Domagoj Dukec, this model will age very well – as will the upcoming BMW XM. Longer, wider, taller and with more usable interior space, this third generation has found the sweet spot that other brands have missed. The X1 range grows even stronger when the fully electric iX1 xDrive30 EV comes along in a few months.

BMW X1
BMW X1

So, if you’re looking for a small SUV that is stylish and sophisticated, then the 2023 BMW X1 should be on your shopping list.

One of my closest mates recently needed to replace the family SUV – small-mid size similar to the BMW X1. At our weekly post-tennis dinners, he laboured about going down the EV route or sticking with his long tradition of driving a Mercedes-Benz. Finally, I said go and try the BMW X1. It wasn’t even on his consideration list.

I’m happy to report that he bought an X1 sDrive18i in Phytonic Blue with the Enhancement pack and the 19″ light alloy V-spoke Bicolour wheels. My work here is done.

About Author
Mike is the Australian editor of SonnyDickson.com with a lifelong passion for cars, technology and engineering. He reviews and writes about all kinds of motoring and tech products for our readers. Follow Mike on Instagram or send him an email: mike@sonnydickson.com
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