BMW is planning a radical engineering change for the second-generation X1 in 2015.
The new model will eschew the rear-wheel-drive platform of the current car in favour of a new front-drive architecture to be shared with future Minis and the groundbreaking new 1-series GT, which is set for a Paris motor show debut in September.
The decision to switch platforms is aimed at providing the next-generation BMW X1 with added packaging benefits and lower production costs, according to insiders.
They hint that the new small soft-roader will offer added interior accommodation over its predecessor, owing to a new space-saving transverse mounting of its engine.
And in a move that is set to provide valuable economies of scale they also indicate that the new X1 will share key elements, including many of its driveline combinations, with the second-generation Mini Countryman.
The new front-wheel-drive platform, known as the UKL (German for ‘Unter Klasse’ or ‘entry level’) structure, is being developed to underpin a whole range of new BMW Group cars, including the next generation of Mini models and a limited number of BMWs.
It will be combined with a Haldex style multi-plate clutch to provide the second-generation X1 with four-wheel drive capability, as is the case with the existing Countryman.
The plan to base the new X1 on the UKL platform indicates that it will be offered exclusively with four-cylinder engines. BMW has already confirmed that it has no plans to re-engineer its six-cylinder engine for transverse mounting.
There is also a chance the new off-roader could be sold with the choice of a new entry-level 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine that will be previewed in the new BMW 1-series GT.