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First look: BMW gives birth to a baby SUV

Pay dirt: X1 brings extends both BMW's 1 Series and X model ranges.

No surprises as BMW's X1 concept emerges right on cue ahead of its Paris show debut

2 Oct 2008

JUST as expected, BMW has come clean with what will become the newest member of both its small 1 Series compact model range and the X-badged family of luxury SUVs.

Revealed on the eve of its global public debut at the Paris motor show on October 2, the “Concept X1” is expected to morph virtually unchanged into a production version next year, before going on sale in Australia in late 2009.

BMW describes the X1 “design study” as a precursor to a series production version that will translate its X model design cues into “a younger and more urban concept”, as well as give it a presence in the compact off-roader segment for the first time.

Of course, the Munich maker also claims to be the first to produce a premium compact SUV, which is expected to eventually be joined by an A3-based Q3 model from Audi, a similar model that may be based on the Mercedes-Benz B-class and is expected to be known as the GLC, and a new model from Land Rover, based on the British off-road marque’s compact LRX SUV concept.

When it launches here in about 12 months, however, the X1 will enter a compact SUV market that is dominated by the likes of Toyota’s RAV4, Nissan X-Trail, Subaru Forester and Honda CR-V, and which was recently joined by Volkswagen’s Tiguan.

14 center imageOf course, BMW's smallest SUV is likely to be more expensive than all of those models, and should come with a range of four and six-cylinder engine options, including BMW’s 125kW 2.0-litre petrol and 130kW 2.0-litre turbo-diesel fours, as well as the brand’s 200kW 3.0-litre petrol and 180kW 3.0-litre turbo-diesel sixes.

At 2760mm, the X1 concept actually rides on a wheelbase that is 100mm longer than that of the 1 Series hatch (2660mm), as well as being just 35mm shorter than the X3’s (2795mm).

It also measures 4457mm long overall, making it just 108mm shorter than the 3 Series-based X3 mid-sizer, as well as shorter than many current Japanese compact SUVs.

Due to emerge in 2010, BMW’s next-generation X3 is expected to increase in size, further differentiating it from the X1, just as last year’s second-generation X5 stepped up in size over the current X3.

The X1 will bring the number of BMW X models to four when it joins the new X6, aged X3 and MkII X5 on sale (the latter kicked-off BMW’s X-badged SUV model line globally in 1999), and will also expand the 1 Series line-up, which in Australia currently comprises the five-door hatch and two-door coupe and convertible body styles.

“The BMW Concept X1 sets the standard for cool elegance, modern style, and variable function in the premium compact segment,” said BMW Australia managing director Guenther Seemann.

“(It) offers ample room for spontaneous mobility in many different ways, clearly reflecting the lifestyle of a modern and active target group.

“Many of the details on the concept car are a clear indication that an actual series production model is not too far away,” he said.

Clearly stamping the X1 as a Chris Bangle-era BMW model (its exterior designer was actually Richard Kim at BMW Designworks in California) is a mixture of convex and concave body panel surfaces, while the X1’s overall profile and proportions are similar to both the X3 and X5, thanks in part to short front and rear overhangs and oversized wheel-arches.

Other features include a larger kidney grille similar to that seen on the redesigned 7 Series flagship sedan, which also debuts at Paris, dual round headlights with flat top edges and white horizontal lids and L-shaped tail-lights with LED features like those on the 3 Series facelift that is yet to reach Australia.

There is also a heavily raked rear window, silver-coloured roof rails that extend backwards to the X1’s rear roof spoiler, silver-finished front and rear lower bumper inserts designed to mimic an off-roader’s bash plates, BMW’s trademark “Hofmeister kick” at the bottom of the D-pillar and, unique to the X1, three-dimensional front and rear lighting cluster surrounds.

Finished in a new “Meridian Gold” paint colour, the Concept X1 rides on new twin-colour ten-spoke 19-inch alloy wheels.

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