The next BMW X1 will mark a revolution for the German brand, as it prepares to evolve a winning recipe and produce a car aligned with the brand’s wide-reaching electrification strategy. To do this, the X1 will move to an updated version of the current car’s platform, allowing BMW to offer petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid and fully electric versions of its Audi Q3 rival.
The X1 is BMW’s second most popular SUV and its fourth best-selling car globally, so this new one really matters at a time of delays, disruption and dwindling deliveries throughout the automotive world.
Spied numerous times during its lengthy development program, the car will make its debut in the second half of this year and go on sale in Britain before 2022 is out. The range’s starting price is set to rise slightly from the £ 30,555 of the current model, and key to unlocking the new X1’s appeal will be a thorough modernization inside and out, without any major repositioning of the car.
The current X1 is now BMW’s oldest SUV, and only younger than the soon-to-be-axed i3 and about-to-be-replaced 7 Series in the firm’s entire passenger-car line-up. As such, there’s plenty to update, while keeping the concept of the X1 relatively unchanged. The new car will still be a compact premium SUV that’s marketed as a more conventional and practical alternative to the sportier-looking X2, which is tipped to be renewed in 2023.
The interior in particular will move on quite significantly from the current car’s. The next X1 will adopt BMW’s latest iDrive 8 system and ‘curved display’ infotainment suite, consisting of a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel blended with a 10.7-inch central display. The SUV will move away from rotary dial input, though, shifting to a touchscreen-only user interface.
The exterior design, shown by spy shots and previewed in our exclusive images above, will incorporate influences from the German brand’s latest compact models. Sharper lines and detailing, more angular headlights and tail-lights, and larger front kidney grilles will all be introduced as part of the visual refresh. A slight growth spurt will give the car more presence, with a boxier, taller and more imposing profile.
Under the new look will be a development of the front-wheel-drive architecture used by the current model. The new X1 will move onto the FAAR platform, which is used by the new 2 Series Active Tourer and will support the next MINI Countryman.
Turbocharged three and four-cylinder petrol power with mild-hybrid assistance will make up the bulk of the combustion engine range, driving the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The UK line-up is likely to begin with the X1 sDrive20i, using a 168bhp 48-volt-assisted three-cylinder engine, joined by a four-cylinder 48-volt option with 215bhp.
Contrary to its dwindling importance and popularity, diesel power will be retained in the X1, too, more than likely using the latest iteration of the brand’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine from the new 2 Series Active Tourer. It develops 148bhp and should return economy in the high 50s.
The two extremes of the X1 line-up will be represented by a high-performance model developed with input from BMW’s M division, and an all-electric model, called iX1, that will rival the likes of the Mercedes EQA and the Volvo XC40 Recharge .
Spy shots of the anticipated X1 M35i hint at sportier exterior styling with a wider track, lower suspension and a quad exhaust set-up. The model will take its running gear from the hottest version of the 1 Series hatchback, the M135i. With a turbocharged four-cylinder engine developing at least 302bhp and xDrive all-wheel drive fitted as standard, a sub-five-second 0-62mph dash could well be within reach.
Less easy to predict is the composition of the all-electric iX1 model’s powertrain, because we’ve yet to see a compact electric BMW model using the FAAR platform in production form. However, information from the company about the abilities of the FAAR platform has previously suggested a targeted maximum range of 280 miles thanks to a 60kWh underfloor battery – more than enough to ensure that the iX1 will be competitive with its rivals.
Now read our drive of the BMW X2 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid model …