► BMW plans 1-series SportCross
► Exclusive news of 'Project XCite'
► A new baby crossover to rival Juke
BMW’s quest for new niches will trigger the launch of the 1-series SportCross, a baby crossover to take on the Nissan Juke and Citroen C4 Cactus junior soft-roader set.
Like this year’s X1 replacement, the SportCross will be based on the new Mini’s UKL architecture. But it will look much less conventional: think X6 coupe-esque silhouette and Range Rover Evoque attitude, and you’re on the right lines.
In BMWspeak, it is a class shift model: a surprise-and-delight effort, a taboo-breaking in-between product to draw new customers to the brand.
What will the BMW 1-series SportCross look like?
Not like our fun mash-up rendering, that's for sure.
The design team have been told that stunning proportions are more important than rear headroom, and big wheels outrank big engines.
The glasshouse should be slitty, the body muscular, the roof long and the track wide.
Project XCite and BMW's baby crossover ambitions
BMW sources drop in phrases like avant-garde and anti-establishment when they mention this Project XCite. Sounds like a new chewing gum brand to us.
Want proof that this project is real? Google 'XCite' it, and you'll find headlines twice earlier this year in a local Bavarian newspaper serving the Regensburg and Dingolfing areas where BMW runs two large assembly plants.
We've also heard the codename NEC, short for New Entry Crossover. Which speaks volumes about this car's intended market positioning...
BMW SportCross: size, specs
The SportCross is a small car, pegged around 4m in length and paired with the next Mini Countryman. Power comes from three- and four-cylinder engines, and a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.
What you can't have is a plug-in hybrid, an e-version, a high-perfomance M offering or a dual-clutch gearbox. Not from launch, at least.
According to a senior BMW engineer, Project XCite is about as far apart from X1 as Evoque is from Freelander. So they're closely related under the skin, but wearing striking different couture. Although the design freeze is still about nine months away, most proposals are progressive and polarising, CAR's sources say.
The five-door hatch is due in 2018, the three-door variant should arrive in 2019. Expect to pay around £20k.