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First Drive

First Drive: BMW X1 PHEV

The story:
Another PHEV from BMW as the X1 joins its sportier-styled X2 sibling and the likes of the X3, X5, 3-Series, 5-Series, 7-Series and i3 in getting a PHEV powertrain, this one with a range of 32 miles for the small SUV
Category:Mercedes-Benz GLA PHEV
Key rival:Mercedes-Benz GLA PHEV
On sale:Now


Another week, another BMW PHEV. Or so it feels, with the new X1 PHEV becoming the eighth BMW to combine petrol and electric, with more models and more variants to come before the end of this year.

This one is BMW’s smallest SUV, combining 1.5-litre three-cylinder 125hp petrol engine with 95hp electric motor to drive all four wheels. Emissions from 40g/km and an electric-only official range of up to 32 miles puts the model in the 10% BiK banding for this tax year, and the X1 is offered in Sport,  xLine and M Sport trim levels, starting from a P11D price of £38,145, just over £1,500 more than the xDrive20d 190hp diesel model.

As is usually the case with plug-in hybrids, there’s a degree of boot space compromise in the X1e, but it’s not particularly obvious that the PHEV has had its luggage are eaten into. The car is down 55 litres on the petrol and diesel models, but at 450 litres is still above the likes of the plug-in Mercedes GLA, Ford Kuga PHEV or Mini Cooper Countryman. The X1 is though a bit pokier than some of its rivals in its smart cabin, and the ride quality is also on the hard side.

First Drive- November 2020- BMW X1 PHEV-Image 1The BMW battery and electric motor system seems to be one of the best around in terms of recouping energy under deceleration, and even an empty battery at the start of a journey will still contribute a decent amount of electric-only running during a journey. Not that that’s an excuse to not plug it in and charge at every possible opportunity, given that’s the only way to make these cars function in a financially sensible and environmentally responsible way. On the flip-side, it’s also noticeable that the system can sometimes be a bit keen to keep the engine on, and it can at times require a consistently light touch on the throttle to encourage the system to switch back to electric running if left on the hybrid setting. The most eco-conscious drivers will take to switching manually between modes to spend maximum time on electric. Another minor complaints surrounds the charging point being at the front of the car, making it harder to reverse into charging spaces for a safer egress.

paul barker

The verdict

Well-priced and with what seems to be an efficient hybrid system, the new X1e adds another crossover choice for drivers looking to cut BiK bills with a PHEV.