New BMW Concept X1 unveiled: first official photos and video

Published: 01 October 2008

London motor show video

This is the new BMW X1. Okay, BMW calls it the Concept X1 – it will be wheeled out tomorrow at the opening day of the Paris motor show – but 99 percent of what you see here will be arriving in production form in the UK in autumn 2009. Expect prices to kick off around £20,000 as the X1 tries to capitalise on its lack of direct rivals – Audi’s Q3 is still two years away. No surprise BMW is predicting 100,000 sales a year as buyers continue to downsize without loss of image.

This Concept X1 is quite easily the ugliest BMW yet – and that’s saying something!

Err, yes, it’s a safe bet that the X1’s lines are likely to have design purists swooning for all the wrong reasons. Its busy mix of lines, uncomfortable proportions and heavy-handed detailing means the X1 stands out – but probably in more of a point-your-finger-and-snigger way than its designers would like. BMW obviously disagrees because it believes the X1 is all about 'cool elegance, modern style, and variable function'. So there.

Codenamed E84 and known internally as Sports Activity Wagon, the German-built car is underpinned by architecture borrowed from the E90 3-series – the same basis for the 2009 Mini 4x4 – which means an extensive range of four and six-cylinder turbo-charged direct injection petrol and diesel engines, hooked up to six-speed manual and new eight-cog automatic transmissions. Efficient Dynamics will also feature to trim the X1’s thirst and emission levels, and a hybrid should arrive within two years of the production version.

Click 'Next' below to find out more about the new BMW X1

See below for the BMW concept X1 video

London motor show video

The X1 looks bigger than expected.

That’s because it is. At 4457mm long, the X1 is just 108mm shorter than the X3, and its 2760mm wheelbase is only 35mm shorter than the bigger off-roader’s. Which leaves us with furrowed brows – why launch a car that supposed to sit below the X3 but mimics it in size and footprint? No doubt some slick marketing manager will have an equally slick answer involving youth appeal and early adopters for us when we quiz him at the motor show later this week. Expect interior accommodation to be generous up front and adequate out back, despite BMW’s claims the X1 offers 'ample room for spontaneous mobility'. Whatever that means.

Talk me through the off-road bit

The X1 will be feature a part-time four-wheel drive system, one that shunts torque up to the front wheels as and when it’s needed. Not that the X1 will ever tackle anything more strenuous than the kerb outside fashion boutiques and coffee shops. So the dynamic emphasis will be squarely on driver engagement – to the extent that, according to our well-placed sources – BMW is already prepping a hotshoe tii flagship to give the X1 some pretty sharp performance teeth.

Click 'Next' below to read more about the BMW X1, its production and the X2

See below for the BMW concept X1 video

London motor show video

What! A tii version?

There’s more. If that doesn’t leave you rolling your eyes, wait until the wraps come off the X2 coupe! Based on the X1, the X2 will look like an X6 that’s been put through a hot wash. Called Sports Activity Runabout, the X2 will be a three-door hatch with a steeply raked roofline, a much more aggressive stance and more power to match its status. Expect it to arrive in early 2011 to take on Land Rover’s LRX, which arrives a year later.

It’s X madness!

Despite selling more X-models than Audi does Quattros and Mercedes does 4Matics, BMW hasn’t lost the 4x4 plot completely. It’s canned the proposed X7, a vast off-road monster said to make the X5 look effete and lithe. And the X4 – the coupe version of the next X3 that would sit between X2 and X6 – has also been put out of its short-lived misery. Phew….

What do you think of the BMW Concept X1? Click 'Add your comment' below and have your say

See below for the BMW concept X1 video 

By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars

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