The X1 is instantly recognisable as a BMW, and a modern one at that. Using design cues first seen on newer cars like the 7- and 5-series, the X1’s skinning is fluid and cohesive rather than sharp. However, traditional BMW details remain. The double barrel headlamps, the large ‘kidney’ grille, the ‘Hofmeister kink’ in the shoulder line and the big squared off-wheel arches; they’re all there. But this ‘youngest’ of BMWs has other interesting bits as well. The long bonnet is heavily sculpted, the wide front splitter gives the X1 a square jawed look and the design of the rear is very fluid. But while it’s long and wide, the X1 is not tall or chunky enough to be a convincing SUV. This is especially true in the flesh where it looks more like a tall estate than an off-roader.
Under the skin, the X1 is a 3- series; slightly raised and differently tuned but otherwise identical. Built on the 3-series touring (BMW for estate) wheelbase, this car inherits all the 3-series’ driver-focussed hardware. The long wheelbase, the super-stiff chassis, the double- jointed aluminium front struts, the double-wishbone five-arm rear axle and of course the rear-wheel-drive architecture. For India, as yet, there is no four-wheel-drive version of the X1, and that’s smart. This car, despite its 194mm ground clearance is not likely to be taken over challenging or wildly undulating ground. The chin is too low slung, the wheelbase is too long and the X1’s wheel travel is also pretty restricted. Boot space at 420 litres however is just about adequate, but the seats can be split 40/20/40, which is very useful. And BMW has used clever rubber banjo cords in the rear to keep small objects secure.