2019 BMW X1 sDrive18i Review: The one to X the box?

Derryn Wong

The least expensive and most popular BMW X1 in Singapore is the X1 sDrive18i – but is it worth the dollar?


This is the facelifted BMW X1, and for some reason (editor stupidity, probably) we’ve not tested the most popular version of one of BMW’s best-selling models in Singapore until now.

The BMW X1 is BMW’s small luxury SUV which first appeared in 2009, and the second-gen debuted here in 2015. Like all small luxury SUVs of the time (Audi Q3, Mercedes-Benz GLA), it lost a little of the lux in order to wiggle into a more comfortable price point and promptly rocketed to the top of the BMW sales chart. 

This is the X1 sDrive18i, which is the least expensive X1 of them all, which accounts for its status as the best-selling X1 here. At launch, the facelifted X1 was only available with the fancier X1 sDrive20i in M Sport with 192hp.

Modest engine = cost savings

As of September 2021 though, the question of choosing between the 1.5 and the 2.0-litre models is moot since the X1 sDrive20i has been officially discontinued in Singapore – just as well since there’s not a huge difference between the two. 

This car here is the M Sport variant, which accounts for the M-styled body kit, gloss black highlights, 18-inch M design wheels, and on the inside the M Sport steering wheel and front sport seats. 

Two updates to the interior are the displays: There’s an 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with rotary controller (iDrive), and the driver’s instrument panel is a dual-clock binnacle. The former is upsized from before, has clearer graphics, and an updated operating system with most of the bells and whistles (like BMW Connected). The latter now has a glossy black finishing which looks a little more upmarket. 

The modest 18i model is, like other cars with that designation, powered by a turbocharged 1.5-litre inline three-cylinder engine. On Singapore’s roads, that’s more than enough, with the 220Nm of peak torque giving a useful amount of grunt.

The triple cylinder unit isn’t as smooth as an inline four – typical of engines with an odd-number of cylinders – but it’s not rough or uncultured, and the offbeat burble of the exhaust is actually more pleasing than the uniform drone of a garden-variety four. 

Like the X1 sDrive2.0, it handles well, with a good amount of driver feedback and poise in corners balanced with predictability that makes it un-challenging to drive – perfect for family duty.

But like many small SUVs, the X1’s ride quality – as we noted back in our 2015 review of the pre-facelift model – could certainly be better. It doesn’t soak up small bumps much, resulting in the small-amplitude jitter that’s irritatingly endemic to small SUVs on Singapore’s roads. If you accept WhatAboutism and the SUV credo of Style Over Ride comfort, then this isn’t really a big deal.  

Even if you don’t, there are still considerable pluses to focus on.

The drivetrain is a frugal one, with a clean VES B rating, and you have BMW’s useful Eco Pro mode to help you along without having to suffer hypermiling measures like turning off the air-con. Driven that way, it should easily do better than a mid-sized SUV and give you around 7.0L/100km.

Practicality is an X-car hallmark, and the X1 is full of it. With a properly tall posture now, there is generous headroom all around – if you want slinky styling go for the X2 instead – and three adults in the second-row of seats is much better than on a hatchback or small sedan. 

The rear seats also move fore and aft, up to 130mm. If you move it forward you have more boot space, 505-litres, and flipping down the seats (40/20/40 split) gives a roomy 1,550-litres. The car’s tall stance also means items like bicycles are an easier fit. 

Our advice? If you don’t want the extra M bits, and fancy wheels, the X1 sDrive18i xLine model has less all round farkling, for around S$5k less than the M Sport.

Overall, the X1 sDrive18i is a great all-rounder with lots of plus points for an SUV buyer, which is why it ranks as one of our choices for Best Small Luxury SUV in Singapore. 

BMW X1 sDrive18i M Sport

Engine1,499cc, inline 3, turbocharged 
Power136hp at 4500-6500rpm
Torque220Nm at 1500-4100rpm
Gearbox7-speed dual-clutch
0-100km/h9.7 seconds 
Top Speed203km/h
Fuel Efficiency6.0L/100km
VES Band B / neutral
AgentPerformance Motors Limited 
PriceS$204,888 with COE and VES
Verdict BMW’s small SUV is big on space and practicality and has most of what you’d expect from a BMW. A solid choice


5 seat 5-door bmw petrol sDrive18i M Sport SUV X1

About the Author

Derryn Wong

CarBuyer's former chief editor was previously the editor for Top Gear Singapore and a presenter for CNA's Cruise Control motoring segment.

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One thought on “2019 BMW X1 sDrive18i Review: The one to X the box?”

  1. Martin says:

    Accurate review. Have got the 2019 BMW X1 sDrive18i. Biggest issue was with the auto-start stop function. Engine cuts off when you slow to ~2km/h. Doesn’t sound like much but causes the car to jerk to 0 km/h immediately. Called the dealer and the solution? Turn off the auto-start stop function every time you start the car if you don’t like it. If you are buying, do a detailed test drive and see if this jerky ride bothers you. Do make sure the auto-start stop function is not disabled during the test drive.

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