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The BMW X1 is fine to drive, but buyers looking for premium feel may be better served by rivals' offerings

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. 

The X1 is a test of how small an SUV can be while being considered premium

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 Volkswagen Tiguan, Audi Q3 and Range Rover Evoque.

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