2008 BMW X1 Concept

The phrase ‘concept car’ once indicated a vehicle was a showcase of pie-in-the-sky technologies. Now, it’s relegated to pre-production vehicles gussied up with subtle trim changes before their official introduction. Such is the case with the BMW X1 Concept – though it’s appearing at the Paris motor show as a show car, it’s a fairly unobstructed look at the upcoming X1 crossover.

As can be gleaned from BMW’s logical nomenclature, the X1 uses mechanical bits copped from the 1-series in the same manner as the X3 borrows from the 3-series, and the X5 raids the 5-series parts bin.

Likewise, it will also be the smallest crossover in BMW’s portfolio. Early specifications on the X1 place it at approximately 4457 mm long, 1535 mm tall, and 2022 mm wide – only 218 mm longer than the 1-series five-door, a model North Americans aren’t privy to. Its small stature places the X1 in the crosshairs of Audi‘s Q3, an upcoming crossover based off the compact A3 hatchback.

From a design perspective, we’re not entirely surprised by what we see. As the X3 resembled a shrunken X5, the X1 Concept looks as if BMW left an X3 in the dryer a tad too long. Many of the typical styling traits associated with an X-model (i.e. upswept quarter window, angled rear hatch, flared fenders, etc.) are present, albeit they almost overpower the small ‘ute.

Some cues, however, are undeniably cribbed from the small 1-series range. Both the tall windscreen and upswept lower character line stem directly from the European 1-series hatchbacks, while the front fascia – especially with its surprisingly low air dam – recalls the 135i coupe.

We’d expect the interior to be a mix of X3 and 1-series as well, but sadly, we’re not privy to BMW’s ideas for the X1’s cabin. Release photos show plenty of work on the X1’s exterior, which makes us suspect that the car shown here is merely a clay model.

Furthering that notion is the noticeable lack of powertrain data within BMW’s press release. Predictably, insiders say the X1 will utilize plenty of 1-series parts, including the inline-four and six-cylinder engines found in the 128i and 138i. As could be expected, the X1 will mate engines to a modified form of X3’s all-wheel-drive system.

But what we’d really like to know is where the X1 will fit in BMW’s portfolio. Though it may have a distinct purpose, we have to wonder if there’s room for both the X1 and X3 in the same segment – especially in North America.

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