Looks are of course subjective, but there is no denying that any player in this category faces up to the looming presence of the Range Rover Evoque, which has stolen the hearts of many buyers and stopped them looking any further at potential buys.
The BMW X1, in contrast, has attracted its fair share of criticism for being too derivative of other members of the BMW family, and looking ungainly. That criticism is a little surprising, given the car’s heritage.
There’s little point in trying to deny the X1’s origins: to the millimetre it shares the same wheelbase as a previous-generation 3 Series Touring, after all. But it is more than 80mm shorter overall, almost 20mm narrower and 127mm taller.
It also comes up 15kg lighter on BMW’s scales, a telling figure that will come back to haunt it later.
The design brief – of a premium small crossover that can tempt 3 Series Touring buyers who want a more elevated driving position – has produced a car with slightly ungainly proportions, albeit one that looks more hatch-like than either X3 or X5. It’s helped in that respect by deep flanks; a sharp crease around the door handles disguises this.
The suspension is via double-jointed axles at the front (in effect, BMW’s modified take on a MacPherson strut) and five-link suspension at the rear. The rack and pinion steering is hydraulically assisted. Interestingly, BMW UK sells the two and four-wheel-drive 18d and 20d SE models with regular tyres; other versions get run-flats.