BMW will unveil its new entry-level SUV at the Paris Motor Show tomorrow. The BMW X1 sets out to provide buyers with a high-riding alternative to the 3-series Touring and Munich insiders hint the five-seater will be priced to compete directly with well-specified versions of the Ford Kuga, Nissan Qashqai and Volkswagen Tiguan when UK sales get underway in early 2010.
Officially BMW is describing the X1 as a concept, but that’s only because it’s being shown more than six months before launch. But sources inside the company have told Autocar that the show car closely resembles the production version.
“The exterior of the concept mirrors that of the X1 destined for the showroom,” a senior insider told us, “only very detailed changes set the two apart.”>>See more pictures of the BMW Concept X1The X1 is being pitched as a ‘crossover’ rather than a traditional SUV. In profile it resembles a compact sporting estate, albeit with the deep body sides of a proper off-roader. The taut surfacing and bold detailing are reminiscent of the X3 and X5.
The X1 isn’t due to reach showrooms until 2009 and BMW is keeping technical details under wraps, but we do know how big it is: 4457mm long, 1789mm wide and 1535mm high.
The elevated ride height and standard 18-inch wheels appear aimed more at providing it with a commanding driving position than attempting to boost its off-road credentials.
BMW will create space in its line-up for the X1 by repositioning the second-generation X3, which will have a stretch in dimensions, more interior space and a price hike. The company did the same thing with the X5 when the current car was launched last year.
With an emphasis more on on-road performance than outright off-road ability, the X1 uses a relatively straightforward mechanical package borrowed from four-wheel drive versions of the 3-series (not sold in the UK).
Models destined for Britain will come equipped with BMW’s ‘xDrive’ four-wheel drive system as standard, although the company’s Dynamic Performance Control torque-vectoring system won’t be offered, due to its price. Instead the X1 will use a tuned ESP system to enhance traction.
Plans to offer the X1 in rear-wheel drive configuration seem to have been dropped to streamline production.
Launch engines will include a 170bhp 2.0-litre petrol unit in the xDrive20i model and a 177bhp 2.0-litre common-rail diesel in the xDrive20d. BMW may also introduce lower-priced xDrive18i and xDrive18d models, using less powerful versions of the same engines.
More powerplants are likely to be added to the line-up in time, including BMW’s 272bhp 3.0-litre straight six and the new 245bhp 3.0-litre, six-cylinder diesel, although it remains to be seen whether they will be offered in the UK.
There won’t be a hybrid X1 at launch, but BMW hasn’t ruled one out for introduction later in the model’s life. BMW wants the X1 to help realise an ambitious annual sales target of 1.8 million vehicles by 2012 — up from 1.5 million in 2007. The X1 is expected to be priced at around £1500 more than the equivalent-engined 3-series Touring.
That should mean the entry-level X1, the xDrive20i, will cost around £25,500 in the UK. It won’t have the market to itself. Audi is working on its own compact SUV, the Q3, based on the Volkswagen Tiguan, while Mercedes is set to launch a small GLC based on the next B-class – and the Land Rover LRX is also due in 2010.