When the BMW X1 was introduced in October 2009, the manufacturer wanted us to believe that it was taking the bold step of pioneering a new segment, that of the baby SUV crossover. In fact, what it provided us with was a baby BMW SUV that was in essence a premature replacement for the first-generation X3.
Then, when the bigger, second-gen X3 came on stream in 2010, the X1 stood alone as the Munich manufacturer’s entry-level model in this area of the market.
In many ways the X1 is a test of how small an SUV can be while being considered premium. BMW plays on the 1-series lineage – what with the ‘1’, and the fact that it’s even built on the same production line as the 1-series coupé and convertible in BMW’s plant in Leipzig.
The 1-series link is, however, a bit of a misnomer. The previous-generation 3-series saloon also rolled down this production line and it’s the 3-series, rather than the 1-series, with which the X1 shares more in common.
This car had three years in development at a cost of millions. Since the X1 was launched, the soft-roader market has grown, so although it is meant to offer a more premium feel than Honda or Toyota’s soft-roaders, it is also in competition with the VW Tiguan, Audi Q3 and Range Rover Evoque.