Next BMW X1 set to go big on efficiency

Exclusive image reveals 2015 BMW X1, which will use the front-wheel drive architecture of the MINI

Sources have confirmed 2015's new BMW X1 will be smaller than the car it replaces. The crossover will use the same front-wheel-drive architecture as the 2 Series Active Tourer, and will shrink as its engine will sit crossways, not lengthways, under the bonnet.

Our spies have caught the car on test, allowing us to create our exclusive main image, which shows how the new Mercedes GLA rival will get a 3 Series-style front end, with headlights that flow into the double-kidney grille.

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The current X1 is based on the architecture of the previous 3 Series Touring. However, the new model will use BMW’s UKL platform, which will also underpin the next 1 Series hatch and new 1 Series saloon. This platform is already used by the MINI three-door.

The modular front-drive set-up is adaptable enough to swallow all-wheel-drive systems, hybrid drivetrains and even full electric power, as it will do in the growing MINI range.

“There are big hopes for the next X1 internally, but it must have more space between it and the X3,” a BMW source told us. “The X1 will get smaller and lighter. It should weigh quite a bit less than at present, but it’ll be just as large inside.” That’s because its packaging will receive the same stretched-to-the-edges treatment BMW has given the Active Tourer, while slashing around 100mm from its 4,477mm overall length.

“We’ve focused our attention towards addressing the comfort of the cabin in the X1,” our source admitted. “Fuel consumption is also an issue we’ve worked hard on, so it will help if the car is shorter than the current one.”

Sources suggest the new X1 will run the same powertrain options as the 2 Series Active Tourer, meaning top-spec cars will use 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrols and diesels. The X1 will also take advantage of the lighter weight and better economy of the MINI Cooper’s three-cylinder turbos.

While it’ll nominally be an all-wheel-drive car, using a rear-mounted Haldex-style clutch, BMW sources admit front-drive X1s will make up the bulk of sales.

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