Thursday, July 30, 2009

2011 BMW X1

"BMW fields its first baby SUV with a spinoff of its new 1-Series compact car. With smooth 6-cylinder power, available all-wheel drive, and "ultimate driving machine" cachet, it could be the new star of a fast-growing market class.

Premium compact SUVs are popping up everywhere, so much so that Consumer Guide has put them into a class of their own, separate from lower-priced models at mainstream brands. BMW's X3 helped plow this field a few years back. Acura has since weighed in with the RDX, the Infiniti EX was new for 2008, and Lexus is said to be prepping a contender, likely based on parent Toyota's RAV4. New for 2009 are the Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLK.

All this new competition poses a big challenge for the X3, which is one of the larger compact SUVs. Because of that, and in line with an announced expansion of its model line, BMW has confirmed a new X1 to slot below the X3 in size and price. The new baby-Bimmer SUV will be based on the company's 1-Series compact car.

Dimensionally, the X1 will be visibly smaller than the X3, Acura RDX, and Infiniti EX, but close in size to the Land Rover LR2. X1 will also be lighter than the X­3, so it should be just as quick, if not quicker, and probably more agile too. Of course, it won't be as roomy as its bigger brother, but it should be adequate for four adults and maybe a week's worth of luggage.

Despite its lower pricing, the 2011 BMW X1 should come with all the standard features expected from this brand. That means antilock brakes, traction/antiskid system, front side airbags, and curtain side airbags.

All import brands are fighting to hold the price line against a weaker dollar, so BMW will be extra picky in deciding X1 standard content. On the other hand, most BMW buyers don't skimp with options, so the baby SUV should list most of the major goodies available for the X3. These include the inevitable Sport Package with firm suspension and upsized wheels and tires, navigation system (bringing with it BMW's irksome iDrive controller), rear-obstacle detection, rear side airbags, and amenities like leather upholstery, heated seats, high-end audio, and steering-linked headlamps. While none of these features are notable nowadays, especially for a premium brand, we wouldn't be surprised if BMW came up with some gee-whiz exclusive for the X1, though we have no idea what that might be."

FF: "I want this car with the panorama roof :)"

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