And this is what, exactly...?
It may not look like anything special, but this is the first public sighting of BMW’s new X1 off-roader. Beneath that black bin-liner camouflage sits BMW’s smallest SUV, as the company continues to try and plug every niche-shaped hole in the market.
Taller, broader and chunkier than the 1-series hatch from which it borrows heavily, the X1 will arrive in 2010 with a full powertrain line-up topped by biturbo 305bhp petrol and 205bhp diesel units, complemented by electronically controlled full-time four-wheel drive and the next generation of BMW’s acclaimed Efficient Dynamics know-how. Expect the current 1-series engine line-up four-cylinder petrols and diesels to account for the bulk of sales.
That looks better...
It may be aimed at yummy mummies, but as our computer-generated image shows, the X1 will be a full time four-wheel-driver, sharing its all-paw layout, raised ride-height and plastic body cladding with the upcoming Mini SUV. Not that most badge-oriented drivers will take it green-laning - although it shares the same sized footprint as Ford’s Kuga and the Toyota RAV4, expect prices for the X1 to start around £23,000.
The cabin will share a high degree of commonality with the 1-series, complete with the latest iDrive and BMW’s signature swan-necked gearlever. Like all new BMW models, the X1 will feature the CAR award-winning Efficient Dynamics technology - the intelligent system that utilises stop-start systems, intelligent alternator control and other green initiatives to boost economy and slash emissions. A full hybrid version is unlikely to get the green light on cost grounds – expect that system, based on that already under development for the 7-series, to be reserved for the new limo.
What else should I know?
The X1 (and Mini’s upcoming 4x4) will be built by Magna Steyr in Austria, which currently builds the X3. In turn, X3 production will be transferred to BMW’s own plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where it will be built alongside the X5 and X6 . Looks like rumours of the 4x4’s demise have been somewhat exaggerated…