2016 BMW X1 F48 Vs. 2015 X1 E84: Which One Has The X-Factor?

Now that you’ve had time to digest the all-new BMW X1 F48, let’s see how it compares to its predecessor from a visual standpoint.

Judging from the comments, you guys really like the new X1 don’t you? Well, so do I. It’s more modern-looking and we can safely say that BMW didn’t screw up any design elements on it – like they did with the 1 Series before they went back to the drawing board and fixed it via a facelift.

But you know what? The first generation X1 (the E84) was arguably one of the best looking non-saloon/non-coupe BMWs on the market. Its aggressive stance, long bonnet-like appearance made it seem a lot more dynamic than it really was (which isn’t to say that it wasn’t fun to drive). It was and still is a great car.

So let’s break it down and see if the new model is an overall improvement or just a rudimentary one at best.


Looking at both of these cars in the “eyes”, you’ll notice the bigger grille, more aggressive headlight design and larger fog lights when it comes to the 2016 model. It simply looks more massive, which is a good thing for any type of car that isn’t particularly imposing in terms of its size.

The old model does look a bit more car-like, rather than SUV-like, which for some could be a good thing. It also appears to have slightly bigger mirrors length-wise, judging from the support. Its spoiler is also less dynamic than the one found on the newer model, with fewer design lines, which means this round definitely goes to the new model.

But wait, what about the always important 3/4 front angle? Here it gets really interesting because the old model had this sort of unique look to it thanks to that long bonnet. It’s as good looking now as it was when it first came out, whereas the new X1 looks a bit like an X3 with an X5 M spoiler.

But even so..

Winner: 2016 BMW X1 F48


Even thought the new X1 doesn’t look entirely like a Sport Utility Vehicle (more like a crossover actually), the old model really didn’t look like any type of SUV we’ve ever seen. It was sleek, athletic, and made you feel like you were looking at a jacked up 3 Series Touring.

The 2016 model has obviously abandoned that look and went for a more conventional appearance. And sure, it may not stand out as much if you’re looking for a more distinctive look, but it’s still a very well designed car. On the down side, that shoulder line looks like it came straight from the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, especially with those longer taillights – but now we’re just being mean.

The new X1 does share a lot of design elements with the X3 and the X5 and so it is by no means a bad looking car. Which one has the best looking profile? It’s hard to make a call because they’re so different.

Winner: Tie


Ah the derrière. We just can’t help but stare (rhyming unintentionally). Take any car, and you couldn’t be blamed for saying that the way in which it looks from the back is equally important to how it looks when viewed from the front. As much as we love the rear of the old X1, hunkered down, looking like a 3 Series Touring, the new model just edges ahead with those ultra-aggressive, modern taillights and dual exhaust look.

Plus, it feels more grown up if you check it out from the 3/4 rear angle, since it’s both wider and taller. It looks like it offers more interior room even before you get inside and find out for yourself – and yes, BMW did say that it’s more spacious.

Winner: 2016 BMW X1 F48


Looking at the cabin of the new X1, you just can’t help but wonder what the heck is going on here. Now, this article isn’t about on-board tech or improved software and things of that nature. We’re just talking about how these two cars compare visually and so seriously now, what’s up with the E83 BMW X3 shifter?

It looks like they went back to 2003 for that one. It’s actually the same one they use in the 2 Series Active Tourer, but you get the idea, it doesn’t look all that..premium. But it’s not just that, because visually, there’s very little indication that you’re looking at a newer model, and that’s a real problem.

So the shifter looks better on the old X1, the steering wheel looks sportier, the climate controls look better – must be because they snatched the ones from the 2 Series Active Tourer to use on the new X1.

To say that the 2016 X1’s interior is a mess would be an exaggeration and even if you don’t agree that the E84’s cabin was somehow better looking, it’s tough to call this one in favor of the new car.

Winner: 2015 BMW X1 E84

There you have it folks. Keep in mind, this visual comparison is as unofficial as it gets. It’s not an elaborate comparison, but more like sitting down, having a beer and talking about these two cars with a friend. So if you disagree, let us know in the comments section.

So is the new BMW X1 a good looking car? Yes it is – surprisingly good looking actually! Is it better looking than the previous model? Absolutely, overall it’s an easy call to make. But better looking from absolutely all points of view while breaking it down into categories? Probably not.

*Note: 2016 BMW X1 on the left, 2015 X1 on the right

Poll: Which BMW X1 do you like more?

Photo Gallery

  • Six_Tymes

    A huge improvement on the exterior, It took them long enough to get the X1 looking good. And ill completely agree on the interior, they blew it. The old interior looks Way cleaner and more modern. My wife looked at the images of the old and new interiors and said “are they crazy? the old interior looks inviting, not the new one”. Oh well.

  • pcurve

    “The first generation X1 (the E84) was arguably one of the best looking non-saloon/non-coupe BMWs on the market”

    that’s a pretty low bar you set there…

  • And the winner is… ugly.

  • TheHake

    I’ve never been a fan of the old style BMW interior. It felt cramped, not cozy. I don’t think the shifter looks better on the new model, but it’s just a stick. And the controls? How on earth can the old ones look better to you?

  • Matt

    What this comparison shows is the evolution of car design based on the need to satisfy the Chinese market. The new model is good-looking, but hardly distinctive. You can tell it was designed based on feedback from Chinese consumer clinics.

    • MarketAndChurch

      Or… it could be that BMW doesn’t want to risk being “original” because Kia-Hyundai will claim every design trick in the book, and people will call them copycats for copying copycats. The current model looks like a car perfect for the Chinese market anyways. At least in its general shape, and side sculpting, it looks more Chinese then the new X1.

  • MarketAndChurch

    Looks like a Mini X6, well-proportioned with a bit of brawn. Unlike the current one, which I never fully warmed up to. The old interior looks sharper, that I agree with. The new one looks like a victim of cost-cutting.

  • Jim Ragland

    I really like how it has evolved into a nice little Ute. I’ve never been overwhelmed with BMW’s interior designed. I can say I live this version on the X1.

  • CFK

    Exterior = Improvement
    Interior = New rich wannabe with bad taste and a lot of cheap plastic

  • Jan Mleziva

    For me everything looks better on the new one, except for the side view. I liked how relatively low the old one was and the long bonnet looked better, too.

  • sam77

    I have to say…the Chinese will still have a hard time copying this….

  • j60dnl

    I fear that this trend of evolution might back car makers into a corner. Look at the new Astra, the latest Mondeo, all recent BMWs, Volvos and of course VW – many of the new models look like facelifts. Taking VW as an example – you could at least tell the mk2 and mk3 Golf apart. It was a Golf, but a new iteration. Fast forward to the mk6 and mk7 – could quite easily be a facelift. How can they move the game on?

  • Rich Money

    whether you prefer old or new, it is fascinating how similar the new one is to the original. There are subtle differences, of course, like the more muscular front fender flare and the more BMW-esque hoffmeister kink on the side rear window. But the theme and many details follow the exact same lines. My guess is that choice was made to minimize the lament (of people who care) that the platform was changed to FWD from RWD.

  • Braddo

    has lost its unique look – looks the same as the X3 and X5. BMW are becoming like Audi where you are hard pressed to tell which model you’re looking at. I see this model as a bit of a fail into generic blah blah design

  • Dan Churco

    Wait… no cup holders?

  • KB

    The shifter on the new one looks outdated. Yuck!! The rest of is looks awesome!!

  • Aajaxx

    Looks good, but how come Mazda can make one that is fun to drive and BMW can’t?

  • Fanclub

    Why don’t follow the gear design from the first generation?
    Just only thing that’s no improvement… – -“

  • Ivo Coiman

    I greatly prefer the lower profile of the older model. By raising and shortening the new one, it just ends up looking like a Honda HRV or Ford Escape from the side which is a shame. I do prefer the new interior though. But the front wheel drive is a real shame as the driving experience has regressed.

    I don’t know why anyone would pay more for the 2016 model when the 2015 and 14 are still excellent and not reliant on FWD.

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