Launches & Reviews News South Africa

Subscribe to industry newsletters

Search jobs

Launch review: The new BMW X1: Robust and versatile

The new third-generation BMW X1 embodies an authentic experience of freedom in day-to-day driving and on longer journeys as well. The interior's progressive design and sophisticated ambience, and the much broader selection of standard equipment compared to the outgoing model, serve to underline its deeply embedded character. It has an increased visual presence. The media were invited to test drive the X1 on various surfaces and in true BMW tradition, it lived up to all expectations.
Image credit: Naresh Maharaj
Image credit: Naresh Maharaj

Initially available in a choice of one petrol and one diesel engine, these models will be followed in early 2023 by the all-electric BMW iX1 xDrive30e.

The X1 sDrive18i and sDrive18d are linked to a seven-speed Steptronic transmission with double-clutch as standard, and their drive power is channelled to the road via the front wheels.

Classy exterior

The surface treatment, lines and classy exterior design details of the BMW X1 display its sports activity vehicle (SAV) identity more clearly than ever in its third model generation. Distinctive design features include powerful proportions, almost square wheel arch contours and the signature BMW X model styling of the front and rear ends.

Image credit: Naresh Maharaj
Image credit: Naresh Maharaj
Image credit: Naresh Maharaj
Image credit: Naresh Maharaj

The upright front end of the new BMW X1 gives it a much greater sense of presence, with slim LED headlights, a large, almost square BMW kidney grille, X-shaped lines radiating out to the sides and eye-catching chrome strips in the lower air intake serving as its defining elements. Adaptive LED headlights with matrix high beam, pulsating turn indicators and variable light distribution are available as an option.

Image credit: Naresh Maharaj
Image credit: Naresh Maharaj

Sheer driving pleasure

The robust aura of the new BMW X1 can be intensified to great effect with the specific design elements of the standard xLine model. The M Sport model also offered as an alternative to base specification places the focus firmly on dynamic driving pleasure with features such as its large cooling air inlets. All model variants come as standard with 18-inch light-alloy wheels as fitted on xLine and M Sport cars, although these models are also available with 19-inch and – in a first for the BMW X1 – 20‑inch wheels. Customers can choose from two solid and ten metallic shades for the exterior paint finish – including a Frozen paint option from BMW Individual for the first time.

A raised seating position and a progressive premium ambience styled on the BMW iX help to create a distinctive driving experience inside the compact SAV. The key elements of the cabin’s redesign are the slender instrument panel, the BMW Curved Display, the floating armrest with integral control panel and the smartphone tray with indirect illumination at the front of the centre console.

Boot space

The rear compartment of the new BMW X1 includes three full-sized seats offering a notable improvement in seating comfort. The 40:20:40 split rear seat backrests can be folded down or adjusted to a different angle to expand the boot capacity. The fore-and-aft adjustment of the rear seats available as an option for the purely combustion-engine models provides even greater versatility.

Boot capacity can be increased from 540 to a maximum of 1,600ls. Restructured equipment packages enable targeted individualisation of the car. The premium character can be turned up another notch by optional features such as the mirror package, ambient lighting, panoramic glass sunroof and Harman Kardon Sound System.

Power and consumption

The market launch line-up comprises the new BMW X1 sDrive18i (fuel consumption combined: 6.5l/100km, powered by a 115kW three-cylinder engine, and the BMW X1 sDrive18d (fuel consumption combined: 5l/100km, whose four-cylinder diesel unit generates 110kW.

The new BMW X1 models offer well-resolved handling characteristics in any situation and deliver the driving experience for which the brand is renowned. The compact all-rounder’s sophisticated chassis technology produces a perfectly harmonious balance between sporty, agile handling on the one hand and long-distance comfort on the other.


The new BMW X1 also treats its occupants to the latest-generation BMW iDrive multi-sensory vehicle experience in the form of the standard-fit BMW Live Cockpit Professional Plus. Based on BMW Operating System 8, it comprises the BMW Curved Display with its state-of-the-art graphics and menu structure along with the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant which has now gained additional skills. The fully digital screen grouping is formed by the 10.25-inch information display and the control display with a screen diagonal of 10.7 inches.

Recommended retail price (including VAT and CO2 tax):

  • BMW X1 sDrive18i - R753,045.40
  • BMW X1 sDrive18d - R790,616.60
  • M Sport package - R793,045.40 and R830,616.60 respectively

About Naresh Maharaj

Naresh Maharaj is a petrol head who loves cars and writing about them. He is also a Member of the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists. Naresh is also an international sports correspondent and an acclaimed corporate MC and voice-over artist. Naresh is a sports/news producer for community radio stations and also an award-winning sports journalist. Contact Naresh on moc.liamg@123jarahamn.

Let's do Biz