2016 BMW X1 spy shots
The prototype appears to be much shorter than the current X1 and its styling, from what we can ascertain, much sleeker and sportier. The shorter length, particularly at the front end, is due to the new platform underpinning the car.
While the current X1 is based on the rear-wheel-drive platform of the BMW 1-Series and is available with either rear- or all-wheel-drive configurations, the next-generation X1 looks to be adopting the UKL platform debuting in the 2015 MINI Cooper.
The UKL comes with front-wheel drive in its most basic form but has the option of all-wheel drive thanks to a Haldex-style multi-plate clutch setup. It is this latter option that will feature predominantly in the next-generation BMW X1 as well as the next MINI Cooper Countryman, though both should still be available with front-wheel drive as standard.
According to our photographer, the front wheels of the prototype were seen slipping when it tried to accelerate in a slippery patch of road, confirming the front-wheel-drive configuration. This means that the next-generation BMW X1 won’t be as sporty as the current model, though it should be just as capable when equipped with all-wheel drive. It should also be considerably more practical due to the better packaging of front-wheel-drive layouts.
BMW insiders have previously said that a switch to a front-wheel-drive platform like the UKL means engineers will be able to improve packaging while also reducing production costs due to economies of scale (UKL will be used for a handful of future MINIs and BMWs). Interior space, in particular, is expected to grow thanks to the transverse mounting of the engine.
BMW is also believed to be working on a straight-six engine that can be transversely mounted (a requirement for UKL), though it’s unclear if this will be fitted to the next X1. Four-cylinder units will definitely get the nod for the U.S. market, while elsewhere BMW will likely offer its new family of three-cylinder engines.
We expect this new X1 to be revealed in late 2015 with sales to commence early the following year. Stay tuned for updates as development progresses.