Is there anything to separate BMW's triumvirate of family SUVs? We take a look.

BMW has introduced its new X2 SUV, completing the soft-roader lineup for numerical purists (it can't just have been us who were upset at X1, X3, X4, X5 and X6?) and introducing a distinctive new choice for those looking for a combination of space, performance and a high driving position.

Wait, did we say distinctive? Actually, we can't seem to tell the difference between the three of BMW's family favourites, the X1, X2 and X3. The latter two are new models this year, and the X1 isn't very old itself. But which one should you go for? Here we compare the three models in 2-litre diesel SE guise. 

2017 BMW X1
2018 BMW X2
2018 BMW X3

X1 xDrive20d SE

X2 xDrive20d SE X3 xDrive20d SE
Price (OTR)    
£30,870  £33,980 £38,880

The new X2 slots in exactly in the middle of the 1 and 3, with prices for the trio ranging from around £30,000 to £39,000. Cheaper petrols are available in the X1 and X2, but the X3 only comes with a petrol motor that has a £50k M-badge stuck on the top. This 2-litre diesel is the sort of bread-and-butter motor that has been powering German SUVs along for years now and it comes shoe-horned into each car here in the same guise for handy comparison.

When it comes to the prices, you've really got to want that slightly taller driving position – these three have a price premium of around £4,000 over their saloon counterparts. A 1 Series with the same 2-litre diesel engine as we're looking at in the three SUVs starts at £26,000 and you're looking at £29k for the 2 Series and £31.7k for the 3 Series. 

Engine

2-litre four-cylinder diesel

Transmission

Six-speed manual        

Eight-speed automatic Eight-speed automatic

Power; torque

187bhp; 295lb ft

0-62mph; top speed

7.6sec; 137mph

7.7sec; 137mph

8.0sec; 130mph

Predictably, the big bluff X3 is the slowest to 62mph and has the lowest top speed. The eight-speed automatic is the transmission of choice when it comes to the X2 and X3, but clearly BMW isn't expecting many of its X1 buyers to turn their noses up at the manual version of the car as they trade up from hatchbacks, where the stick shift still reigns supreme.

2017 BMW X1
BMW X2 2018
2018 BMW X3

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Economy; CO2 emissions

58.9mpg; 127g/km

61.4mpg; 121g/km

56.5mpg; 132g/km

Fuel tank size

51 litres

51 litres

67 litres

The X2's lithe dimensions are revealed here in a little more detail – a longer wheelbase over a shorter length will make for a more dynamic drive and should free up cabin space that's been lost in comparison to the X1. Headroom could be an issue in the X2 compared with the X1, which is 7cm taller and the X3, which is a massive 15cm taller. 

Both X1 and X2 are the same width, where the X3 has 6cm extra elbow room to play with. It's interesting when looking at an array of such seemingly different cars that the difference in length is a mere 30cm. This is most clear when looking at the boot sizes – there's hardly anything between the X1 and X3, where 50 litres of difference seats up or down is but a sliver. 

The X2 pays for its rakish proportions and shorter length with storage space that's much smaller than either the X1 or X3 – not necessarily the practical choice, then. That said, a quick look at the table above shows us the the 2 is the most economical of the three cars, followed by the 1 with the 3 trailing behind. 

Length/width/height

4.44m x 1.82m x 1.60m

4.36m x 1.82m x 1.53m

4.66m x 1.88m x 1.68m

Wheelbase

2.67m

2.76m

2.81m

Cargo capacity, seats up/down

505/1,550 litres

470/1,419 litres

550/1,600 litres

2017 BMW X1
BMW X2 2018
2018 BMW X3
Kerbweight

1,615kg

1,675kg

1,805kg

Max. braked towing weight

2,000kg

2,000kg

2,000kg

Each of our three SUVs is rated for the same maximum braked towing weight of 2,000kg with the 2-litre diesel engine installed, which makes any of them a practical choice of car to stick in front of a caravan.

If you do plan to two, the X1 and X2 will give you the best value for money when it comes to maximum authorised mass – the kerbweight is where we see the most variety between the trio, with the 3 almost 200kg heavier than the 1 and 130kg more than the 2. Those 1,805kg do perhaps explain why the X3 is the worst of the lot on diesel consumption.

BMW X1 vs X2 vs X3