The world's first baby luxury soft-roader launches this week, and a rear-wheel-drive version will take the price below $50,000 in Australia, writes Jez Spinks.
BMW’s first ever rear-wheel-drive X model will bring the company’s popular range of luxury soft-roaders below $50,000 when it arrives in Australia in April, 2010.
The smallest luxury SUV to be offered yet by the German car maker has made its international launch debut in Leipzig, Germany, where BMW said it is likely to add a rear-drive X1 to the two all-wheel-drive models officially confirmed for Australia.
The X1 joins BMW’s X5, mid-sized X3 and X6 all-wheel-drive models that were first released globally in 1999, 2004 and 2008 respectively and have totalled more than 1.5 million sales between them.
The BMW X1 goes on sale in Europe in October before reaching Australia in the second quarter of 2010, when it will start adding to the 30,000-plus X models already sold to date.
BMW says the X1 is the first of its kind.
“The X1 opens a new segment – the compact premium SUV,” says BMW’s X1 project manager, Peter Krist. “The time is right for the vehicle. It’s an innovative answer to customers that long for a luxury compact SUV.
“People long for smaller-sized vehicles, and the X1 is for people who want to embrace this [downsizing] trend.”
BMW says until the arrival of Audi’s new Q3 – due by early 2011 – the X1’s only obvious competitor is high-end versions of the Volkswagen Tiguan, though Land Rover’s more utilitarian Freelander2 is similarly sized and priced.
At 4454mm long, 1798mm wide and 1545mm high, the X1 is 115mm shorter, 55mm narrower and 129mm lower than the X3 that will grow again in size when it’s revealed in second-generation form next year..
BMW’s smallest X model uses a platform based on the 3-Series Touring (wagon).
Europe’s X1 line-up will include a six-cylinder petrol, one twin-turbo diesel, and two single-turbo four-cylinder diesels – available either as all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive.
The rear-drive entry-level X1s are the most fuel efficient versions as a result of being 85kg-odd lighter without the all-wheel-drive hardware.
The sDrive18d uses just 5.2 litres per 100km, though later in 2010 Australia is expected to get the sDrive20d that gets a more powerful tune (of the 18d’s 2.0-litre turbo diesel
The two diesel-powered all-wheel-drive X1s being offered initially down-under are the xDrive23d and xDrive20d – with the 20d expected to start in the $50,000-$55,000 bracket.
BMW’s xDrive23d features a 2.0-litre diesel with two turbos to serve up 150kW and 400Nm, with fuel consumption of 6.3L/100km (CO2 emissions 167g per km). Claimed 0-100km/h acceleration is 7.3 seconds.
The xDrive20d’s single-turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder generates 130kW and 350Nm, with fuel efficiency improving to 5.8 litres per 100km (6.2L/100km auto) but acceleration dropping to 8.4 seconds (8.6sec auto).
Diesel power accounts for the vast majority of X3 (80 per cent) and X5 (85 per cent) sales locally, though BMW Australia is also contemplating the X1 xDrive28i model. Key figures for the 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol are 190kW, 310Nm, 6.8 seconds 0-100km/h and 9.4L/100km fuel consumption.
Manual versions of the X1 come with stop-start technology, which can automatically shut down and restart the engine when the car is stationary.
While the 2010 X3 will join the X5 and X6 on a production line at BMW’s Spartanburg plant in North America, the new X1 will be built in Leipzig, Germany, alongside 3-Series sedan and coupe and convertible versions of the 1-Series.
BMW isn’t revealing the number of X1s it is planning to build annually, though European media have reported a figure of 100,000.
This story was originally published in Drive.