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Volkswagen Tiguan vs. BMW X1: which is better?

The popularity of small SUVs is on the rise, but which one should you buy, the VW Tiguan or BMW X1?

on the left is a blue Volkswagen Tiguan R and on the right is a grey BMW X1

The recent rise in small SUVs has increased drastically over the past decade, with almost every mainstream carmaker jumping on the bandwagon.

But what is it that makes the Volkswagen Tiguan and BMW X1 stand out from the crowd? And more importantly, which should you buy? 

It's even harder when you consider that you can get used Volkswagen and used BMW models at impressive prices.

Learn the ins and outs of each model in our VW Tiguan vs. BMW X1 review.


on the left is a white Tiguan's brakelight and on the right is the front of a grey bmw x1

Many people may not know that the Tiguan name stems from combining ‘tiger’ and ‘iguana’. We’re not entirely sure what Volkswagen marketing team was smoking when they came up with this, but we’re certain it doesn’t look like a hybrid reptile/wild cat. 

Instead, the Tiguan has a very chiselled look, making it one of the more stylish SUVs on your street. It’s not too daunting to look at like the Range Rover Velar or larger Volkswagen Touareg – instead, it appears more like a large hatchback, and we like that. 

The same goes for the X1 – BMW has done a superb job of styling. Again, it’s not as tall as many of its rivals, and because it shares its platform with the Mini Countryman, it’s really not that large at all.

But Beamer still made sure to keep its aesthetic brand identity, with many design elements resembling the larger X3 and X5 models in the brand’s lineup.  

What are they like to drive?

on the left is a blue tiguan bluemotion and on the right is a grey bmw x1 rear

Like the first point we made about the Tiguan, it’s not much like the animals it's supposedly named after – or is it?

Thanks to VW’s incredible 4Motion four-wheel drive system, this plucky SUV is a great thing to drive – not just on but off-road too. 

But if you’re not one for green laneing then the Tiguan is also great on the road, and it’s especially good around towns and cities thanks to its light steering and comfortable ride.

There's also a great range of petrol and diesel engines on offer, along with the choice of a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox. There really is something for everybody. 

However, if you’re someone who likes the thrill of driving a little more than the average person, then the X1 would be better for you.

It’s no helmsman’s dream, but it’s got some really good sporty suspension that allows you to get around corners as a hatchback would.

It’s got direct steering too, which is an area where BMW has always excelled.  

Engine options comprise of petrol, diesel, or plug-in hybrid units.

Interior and technology

on the left is a volkswagen tiguan's steering wheel and on the right is a bmw x1's display

Like the Golf with which it shares many of its components, the Tiguan has a really spacious cabin with lots of storage areas and great onboard technology.

It hasn’t got a whole cow draped across the dashboard like some high-end SUVs do, but it's got a high-quality interior with comfortable seats and plenty of headroom.  

Entry-level S models come with air-con, automatic wipers, sat-nav and an infotainment system that allows you to connect your smartphone to the car via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto

The X1 is also very spacious – it’s got plenty of head and legroom in the front, even for tall drivers, with ample rear space too.

The seats are incredibly comfortable and offer extra support on the sides, a bit like a sporty hatchback. 

It has all the fancy tech you’d find in the Tiguan, thanks to its spectacular iDrive system.

Higher-spec cars are available with more powerful uprated Harman/Kardon speakers so you can really feel your tunes. 

Choosing a used BMW X1 or VW Tiguan is a great way to secure more features and higher trim levels for a lower price than when purchasing brand-new.

Bootspace and practicality

on the left is a blue volkswagen tiguan rear and on the right is an X1's rear seats

Being small-to-mid-sized SUVs, practicality shouldn’t be an issue.

Both cars have smart storage solutions throughout the cabin and can seat up to five people with no issues.

The best way to think of these cars is to imagine them as taller, airer versions of their smaller Golf and 1 Series counterparts

The Tiguan has a 520-litre boot and the X1 a 540-litre trunk. This is plenty for most large weekly food shops or a midnight airport run with the family.  

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Safety and reliability

Being modern German-made cars, there should be very little concern regarding reliability.

They feature really solid engines and sublime build quality – no wonder you see so many being used as airport shuttles or as taxis. 

The same goes for safety. Following their most recent Euro NCAP crash tests, both cars scored a full five stars and offer superb adult and child occupancy safety. 

You might find that the Tiguan and X1 are slightly pricier to upkeep when compared to budget models. You're paying for high-quality parts and might want to visit a specialist so repair costs could be higher, but this does mean you're getting the best treatment.


Volkswagen Tiguan

Length: 4486mm

Width: 1839mm

Height: 1635mm

Boot space: 520 litres


Length: 4439mm

Width: 1821mm

Height: 1598mm

Boot space: 540 litres

Verdict: Volkswagen Tiguan vs. BMW X1: which should you buy?

When it comes down to it, both of these SUVs make impeccable family vehicles.

You’d be hard-pressed to find cars as capable and as versatile for such an affordable price. 

But just in case you need a little nudge to make your final decision, here's our verdict.

We would recommend opting for a used Tiguan if you just need a simple mid-sized family SUV to get you from A to B in style. It does everything you ask of it with ease. 

However, if you’re someone who likes something a little sportier, then the X1 is right up your street.

Its sharp looks and excellent handling make for a great all-rounder that’s fun on a country road.

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