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BMW X1 vs. X3: which is better for 2024?

Take a look at the BMW X1 vs. BMW X3 dimensions, performance, tech and reliability in our comparison review

A comparison of the BMW X1 and BMW X3 models

BMW X1 vs. X3

The BMW X1 and BMW X3 are two of BMW’s compact SUVS. While the X1 is smaller than the X3, they both offer a premium family-friendly package.

You can find plenty of used BMW models on the market as well - ideal if you want to save money compared to purchasing brand-new.

Here’s our quick comparison to help you make your decision and see the difference between the BMW X1 and X3 models.

BMW X1 vs X3: styling  

A comparison of the rear light details on the BMW X1 and X3 models

The BMW X1 is a sub-compact SUV or crossover while the X3 is a compact SUV. This makes them distinguishable from a distance as the BMW X3 is bigger than the X1 and has more of the traditional tough SUV look.

The X1 has grown into its looks since its 2009 launch and is now one of the most stylish prestige small SUVs.

You get the large double-kidney grille and wraparound angular headlights and chunkier rear – it’s sporty, but a bit funkier and more relaxed than the larger X3.

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The X3 is a very sophisticated, modern SUV. It also has the BMW kidney grille, but it’s a bit more subtle and soft.

In general, if you like a more classic design with a sculpted profile, then you’ll like the X3.

The latest generation is designed with a swooped 360-degree look, which is very seamless and gives it real authority.

BMW X1 vs X3: what are they like to drive? 

A comparison of the BMW X1 and X3 models driving

Most people think ‘driver’s cars’ when it comes to BMW, and the X1 and X3 both perform well.

The X1 comes with petrol, diesel, and plug-in hybrid 2-litre engine options, all of which are front-wheel drive and come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The X3 also comes with 2-litre engine options but it’s tuned to be more powerful than the X1, so it’s a bit more fun to drive.

It’s faster, has more horsepower and is very engaging while still being refined. Get the X3 M or the X3 Competition, and you’re going to get a lot of thrills.

The X1 handles well due to its smaller size. You can execute sharp manoeuvres quickly, so if you’re after an SUV that’s nifty around town then the X1 is the more natural fit.

The X3 is more suited to long family stints on the motorway or country staycations.

There are all-electric versions of both cars: the iX1 and iX3. The iX1 has a range of 272 miles, while the iX3 manages up to 285.

Both have more than enough range to go on long journeys and keep any range anxiety at bay.

BMW X1 vs X3: interior and technology 

A comparison of the interior in the BMW X1 and BMW X3 models

BMW interiors are known for being some of the best –laid-out you can get in the prestige category.

The X1 and X3 interiors share similar materials and are both built to a very high quality. Expect brushed metals, woods, and supple leathers.

In terms of looks and layout, the two cars actually differ quite a bit.

The X1 has a more minimalistic dash that includes BMW’s new curved touchscreen setup.

You get a floating console with the physical buttons shared between the steering wheel and the switch gears on the central console.

It’s sleek and simple and makes the X1 feel bigger on the inside than its size suggests.

The X3 benefits from the extra space, with a light and airy feeling and a high driving position.

The X3’s interior is less minimalistic, with more interconnecting angles and lines, and physical buttons.

That doesn’t mean it looks cluttered – it’s very well balanced between more traditionally handsome and very modern.

The central 10.25-inch touchscreen and driver’s digital console also keep it fresh and glitzy.

Both the X1 and X3 come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as expected, as well as Wi-Fi, sat-nav, Bluetooth, advanced memory seats and MY BMW app to name a few.

BMW X1 vs X3: bootspace and practicality  

A comparison of the boot space and practicality in the BMW X1 and X3 models

The BMW X1 is smaller than the X3 but both cars utilise space very well, and the X1 holds its own against its larger sibling.

Both cars are strictly five-seaters – there’s no seven-seater option, even on the X3.

The latest X1 is larger than the previous generation and this means rear passengers get more room.

The rear seats slide backwards and forwards and recline, which makes the X1 very practical.

The X3 is one of the most impressive for front space in its category. The high roofline means tall adults have plenty of headroom and because the X3 is wide, you can fit three adults if needed.

The back is on par with the Audi Q5, but it’s best suited to kids or young teenagers in the rear.

Door bins and cubbyholes are generous in both cars, and both cars have high towing capacities, so you can hook a trailer or caravan up to either for extra practicality.

The X3 gives you 550 litres of boot space, which increases to 1,600 litres with all the seats folded down.

The X1 has a tad less with 540 litres, which goes up to 1,495 litres. This is more than enough for multiple suitcases and bags per family member.

Read our in-depth car reviews: 

BMW X1 vs X3: safety and reliability  

As of 2022, BMW ranked 16th out of 29 manufacturers in the Driver Power customer satisfaction survey.

The latest X1 was too new to feature, but the 1 Series, 3 Series, 5 Series, X3 and X5 all finished high on the 75-car list.

You can feel confident that the X1 and the X3 are both reliable cars, and they’re very safe.

They were both awarded the full five stars by safety body Euro NCAP and scored particularly well in adult and child occupant safety, making them both very safe family cars.

They both come with an abundance of safety assists, which is very reassuring, and another reason they were awarded five stars.

BMW X1 vs X3 dimensions: 


Length:  4500mm

Width:  1845mm

Height:  1642mm

Boot space:  540 litres


Length:  4708mm

Width:  1891mm

Height:  1676mm

Boot space:  550 litres

Verdict: BMW X1 vs BMW X3: which should you buy? 

You’ve probably decided which BMW SUV is for you while reading our quick low-down, but if there’s still any doubt in your mind whether the X1 or X3 is your next dream car, our short verdict should help you out.

If you prefer a larger SUV to feel commanding on the road and enjoy a bit more power and thrill, then we’d recommend the X3. It’s very plush and you get more features as standard.

But for people who want a less expensive but still incredibly practical, spacious and prestigious SUV, especially for fuel-efficient mileages, then it’s hard to compete with the X1.

If you’re ready to go electric, then the iX1 and iX3 are very smart buys because they are so similar to their combustion cousins.

If you’re on the fence with EVs, then getting a plug-in hybrid of either car might be good for you.

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