When BMW released its first SUV, the X5, it insisted on calling it an SAV, or Sports Activity Vehicle. It’s no beast of burden! said the Bavarians. That self-conscious nomenclature has carried through to BMW’s current truck line-up, even though all models (save the rakish X6) provide a fair amount of utility. (Activity is also present, especially in the insane, twin-turbo V8 X5 M and X6 M).
The newest addition to the SAV clan is the compact X1, which for the first time is based on Mini’s front-wheel drive architecture (American will only get AWD variants, however). Gone are the last model’s inline six, rear-drive platform, manual hand-brake and hydraulic steering—vestiges of that car’s E91 3-series platform that we really liked.
However, it’s a touch lighter, bigger inside, and will improve on the old car’s economy by almost 20%. These cars make great all-arounders, like Subaru Outbacks with better interiors and appropriately German driving dynamics. With good power from a 2-liter turbo, BMW’s excellent all-wheel drive, and just enough ground clearance for small logs and streams, this is the car to take camping this fall when it debuts.
Photos by BMW