2008 Paris Auto Show: BMW Concept X1
BMW continues to carve new "sport activity vehicles." The smallest yet, the BMW X1 Concept, was unveiled with the news that a production version will be coming to the U.S. in the latter half of 2009.
Why it Matters
The really-small luxury-branded crossover market is being created from whole cloth this year, thanks to the advent of the BMW Concept X1. Slotted below the BMW X3, the Mercedes-Benz GLK and the Audi Q5, the BMW Concept X1 is a further attempt by BMW to reach beyond its traditional sedan segments, and a logical extension of the downsizing we've seen with cars like the BMW 1 Series coupe.
What it Looks Like
We were initially titillated by the idea of a small BMW crossover. However, now that we've seen it for real, we're not so sure the BMW Concept X1 works. BMW seems to have been lazy about the design work, and simply downsized the passenger compartment of a BMW X5, and then grafted on the nose of a 1 Series coupe. The resulting Concept X1 isn't exactly ugly, but it's not really grabbing us, either.
What's Under the Skin
As expected, the BMW X1 will be outfitted with a six-cylinder engine, but MyRide.com was told it also would get a four-cylinder gasoline engine as well as the four-cylinder diesel now found in the European BMW 1 Series. In the 1 Series, the diesel returns around 45 mpg, so the X1 could be the mileage champ of all the SUVs when it hits showrooms next year.
What We Think
Generally speaking, we're always in favor of more BMWs. However, the company has gone a little nutty lately with its crossovers. The BMW X5 is still a fine machine, and the X3 is a good smaller version. The BMW X6, on the other hand, is interesting to look at but an ultimately pointless vehicle. The production version of the BMW Concept X1 may be just the opposite: Useful and practical, but not the prettiest Bimmer to come along.
By Keith Buglewicz and Greg Brown
Photo credit: Greg Brown