BMW launched the X1, its smallest SUV, in 2009, with expectations of U.S. exports in addition to its European sales. But the economic climate, and the high demand for the cars in Europe, put the kibosh on the car's appearance in the U.S. Now, however, an updated version has been announced that will debut at the 2012 New York International Auto Show.
The most carlike of BMW's X-designated vehicles, the X1 could almost be called a hatchback. BMW says the X1 is the only premium vehicle in its segment, although other automakers might take issue with that appraisal. With its size and capabilities, it is an upscale alternative to the Subaru Outback.
Although offered with a variety of engines in Europe, the only one to come to the U.S. will be the new turbocharged, direct-injection 2-liter four-cylinder. BMW uses this engine in the new 328i and Z4. It produces 245 horsepower, and should be more than adequate in the X1.
At about 14.5 feet long, the X1 is a very compact vehicle, yet it can still carry five passengers. Reports say the 2013 model will get minor updates, such as turn signals integrated with the side mirrors.
As part of the X line, the X1 will come standard with all-wheel drive. The specifications give it ground clearance of 7.6 inches.
From BMW's photos, the cargo capacity looks surprisingly large, considering the length of the vehicle.
The specifications for the current X1 say it comes with hydraulic power steering, with an optional Servotronic system. BMW has been slow to adopt electronic power-steering systems, which can save gas but may reduce road feel.
As the X1 has only been in production for a couple of years, it is not likely the 2013 model will be a major update. But the cabin electronics available will include the company's most recent features.
Along with its excellent navigation, phone, and stereo systems, the X1 will offer online Google local search and app integration, similar to what we have seen on the new 6 and 3 Series.
Although BMW offers a six-speed manual as the base transmission in the European X1, expect the U.S. version to only come with the eight-speed automatic.