BMW x1 vs x3

The world of SUVs and crossovers has being growing and BMW has not been left behind. First, they had the x5 then we had a smaller version the x3 and now we have the x1, which happens to be a cross, breed between an SUV and sedan like handling. If you are wondering which one to get – the larger x3 or the more compact x1 this article explains some their differences.

What are the differences between the x1 and x3?

228HP@5,000 four cylinder
248HP four cylinder engine

M40i 382HP six cylinder engine
Leg room
Head room
Cargo space
27.1 cu.ft
28.7 cu.ft
Speed 0-60mph
6.3 seconds
6 seconds for 248HP engine and 4.4 secs for M40i
8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
62.5” H, passenger volume 98 cu ft, curb weight 3736 lb
66” H passenger volume 99 cu ft curb weight 4297 lb
8.8” console
10.3” with option for 12.3”

X1 vs. X3 – How do they compare


The first key difference is the size. The x1 is a sub-compact luxury SUV while the X3 is a compact one. The X1 is sporty and balanced while still remaining fuel efficient. When compared to the x1 the x3 rear seats give you 0.8 inches of additional shoulder room. The cargo area is also larger at 28.7 cubic foot which 1.6 cubics larger than the x1. Surprisingly the X1 offers more leg and head room than the X3 at 37 and 39.4” respectively against the X3 36.4” and 39.1”.


The x1 comes with a 228 horsepower, 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine. This magnificent engine is linked through an eight speed transmission. The x3 offers more power options with its 248HP turbocharged four cylinder engine that is capable of hitting 0-60mph in six seconds. You can also purchase the more power enhanced M40i model which comes with a six cylinder turbocharged engine that gives you an output of 382HP. This enables the model to move from 0 to 60mph in 4.4 seconds.  The X3 M40i model is more powerful than the X1.


You will find standard synthetic leather on the x1 seats and a leather wrapped steering wheel. You also get the classic iDrive dashboard that is standard in most modern BMWs. This is a 8.8” touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, navigation, and HD radio. The X1 offers the SiriusXM satellite radio and you can play your music via the provided seven speaker audio system. Buyers also have the option of going for a 12 speaker Harman/Kardon sound system. The X3 has a larger 10.3” Infotainment screen with the option of upgrading to a larger 12.3” screen.

Fuel efficiency and safety

Due to the smaller engine size when compared to the X3 the X1 offers one better fuel economy in both city and highways. When put to the test it delivers 29mpg. The X3 M40i offers almost the same fuel economy as the X1 at 29mpg but its xDrive30i consumes more at 31mph.The X1 comes with advanced safety features like automatic emergency braking, driver-assist features and speed limit recognition. When it comes to the National Highway Traffic Safety tests the x1 received five stars but it has missed on some recognitions due to its headlamps. Other safety features include the standard forward-collision warning, the lane departure warning and the automatic high-beam headlamps.

X1 vs. X3 – A Comparison Overview

X1 – Overview

The x1 comes with a powerful 228HP four cylinder turbo charged engine that is capable of delivering great raw power while still remaining fuel efficient. When it comes to handling it does an amazing job on curves and will handle a couple of hills off-road. The x1 offers you SUV roominess with a bit of sedan type handling. It is not as big as the x3 but you still get the signature BMW excellence and touch of craftsmanship.

For the wheels you get nice sporty 18” wheels with a 8.8 iDrive entertainment system. The iDrive allows you to enjoy your favorite music on the drive and also comes with satellite navigation and Apple CarPlay. You also get Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity which allows you to sync your phone for continuous entertainment and calls. Music is supplied through a seven speaker audio system. You can also get an optional 12-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system. You can control all these functions through the BMW rotary at the center console. For safety features you get speed limit recognition and automatic emergency braking.

For the 2021 model you get some upgrades like SiriusXM satellite and the LED are now not included in the optional premium packages. The 228H 2.0 Liter engine is linked to an eight speed automatic transmission that is smooth and delivers good fuel efficiency. When put to the test it is capable of hitting speeds of 6.3 seconds from 0 to 60mph.

The car comes with standard front wheel drive and you get the optional all wheel drive system. When it comes to fuel ratings the x1 performs quite well delivering 29mpg on highways. When it comes to the interior it is polite to say that you can notice some levels of cost-cutting. For example the glovebox door is a bit flimsy and almost feels like a child’s plastic lunchbox. The cockpit is designed to be as much driver focused as possible and this adds to its sporty feel. The gauge cluster is elegant and businesslike. The cargo area is carpeted and trimmed in chrome.

The X1 scores major points when it comes to its safety features. It comes with a list of driver assist features like the automatic emergency braking, speed limit recognition, forward collision warning, automatic high beam headlamps and lane-departure warning. In fact, when put to the Test the x1 was given five stars by the National Highway Traffic Safety administration.

What we liked:

  • Enhanced fuel efficiency
  • Compact and highly maneuverable
  • Awesome safety features
  • Practical interior

What we did not like:

Bland styling and unsupportive standard front seats

X3 – Overview

The X3 is offered in four different models. You have the base model with a 248HP 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine that is capable of hitting 0-60mph in six seconds. The engine is linked to an eight speed transmission. If you want more power than you can opt for the more sportier M40i with its turbocharged six cylinder 382HP engine. This will allow you to go from 0 to 60mph in less than 4.4 seconds. No matter the engine model you go for you still get that distinctive BMW handling and power.

The eight speed automatic enables you handle city traffic well without draining your pockets for fuel. You also have the option of the X3 sDrive30i which drives the rear wheels. The 382HP definitely offers more brutish power and is a close competitor of the Mercedes-AMG GLC43. It also comes with adaptive M Suspension that lowers the chassis by 0.4 inches.

The X3 features a well balanced chassis that helps in power distribution. The X3 offers plenty of power and options. The cabin is large and comfortable with all the BMW attention to detail. The 2022 model has being upgraded with a new grille, tail lamps and new headlamps. For entertainment you get a 10.3” entertainment console but you get the option of a larger 12.3”. The infotainment comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It also features in-dash navigation, Wi-Fi hotspot and Bluetooth connectivity. You also get one USB port as standard.

When it comes to fuel economy the X3 does perform quite well with the M40i and xDrive30i beating most of the efficiency estimates. The M40i delivers 29mph while you get 31mpg for the four cylinder xDrive30i.

When it comes to styling the X3 takes things notch higher with its 10-way power adjustable front seats. The rear seats come with reclining seatbacks and cushioning in all seats. You also have a distinctive woodgrain trim and stitched faux leather dash. The cargo handling is great and you can pack quite some cargo for long trips.

For safety the X3 performs well in most crash tests. It comes with standard automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and standard lane departure warning.

What we liked:

  • Powerful in-line engine
  • Agile handling
  • Fuel efficient
  • Lush interiors

What we did not like:

Exterior mirrors are too small

Verdict: So, which is better – X1 or X3?

Power and pricing will be the key determining factor on which of the two you go for. If you are down on cash then go with the X1 however, if it is power you are looking for then the M40i is a monster on the road with its fast speeds. The X3 is our winner as it also offers a more roomier cargo handling area which is ideal for large families and travelling.


How is the fuel economy on the X1?

The X1 gives you 29mpg which is quite good for city and highway traffic.

Which has a better entertainment system – X1 or X3?

The X3 wins because it comes with a larger 10.3 console which is bigger than the 8.8” screen on the X1.

Jurgen Shmidt works as an automotive engineer, his duties revolve around vehicle design, development manufacture, and testing. Shmidt is also involved in marketing, sales, and the after-sale care of cars, apart from his 8 hours job, he interacts with enthusiasts who have concerns or wish to learn about the various models of the BMW luxury cars. Shmidt believes that the demand for detailed information surpasses its availability and that is why he dedicates most of his free time, researching and compiling reliable information. The information compiled on bmwexpert has been derived from hands-on experience and not some snazzy press release, thus we believe you will find answers to your troubling questions about the BMW.

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