This week, BMW unveiled its second generation X1 luxury compact crossover, set to debut as a 2016 model.

The X1 is the smallest of BMW’s SUV offerings and will also be priced as one of the brand’s most affordable models, starting in the low $30,000 range. 

Initially, the only powerplant available is the company’s 2.0-liter TwinPower turbocharged inline-4-cylinder engine. It will crank out 228 horsepower —although that figure is down from the 240 in the current generation car. 

Even though it’s less powerful than its predecessor, the new X1’s 0-60 mph time of 6.3 seconds remains unchanged. 

The first generation X1 was relatively well received when it arrived in the US in 2013, but it didn’t garner the kind of sales the company would have liked. With the new car, BMW got a second bite at the apple — and boy, did they get it right.

The new X1 is the best looking compact crossover on the market today. 

BMW has managed to do what Mercedes and Audi couldn’t successfully accomplish — make a compact SUV look as good as the larger vehicles their designs are meant to emulate. 

Audi Q3AudiAudi X3.

The Mercedes-Benz GL and the Audi Q7 are both attractive and highly regarded large SUVs. So with the compact GLK and Q3 models, Mercedes and Audi tried to recreate them in a scaled down package. 

The result is styling that’s rather awkward and misproportioned — like a sweater that’s small not because it was meant to be that size, but rather was accidentally left in the dryer too long.

Styling aside, the GLK and the Q3 are very competent vehicles. In fact, Business Insider’s Matt DeBord found the Q3 to be a very fun and enjoyable car to drive. 

With the new X1, BMW has been able to not only deliver a dynamic vehicle, but also one that’s truly pleasing to the eye. 

Mercedes Benz GLK 350 Mercedes-BenzMercedes-Benz GLK.

This is because BMW has the distinct advantage of having a design aesthetic that doesn’t scale down, but rather scales up. For example, with Mercedes, the design conversation begins and ends with its flagship S-Class sedan. Everything the brand makes is some sort of derivative of the styling found on the big car. In most instances, the execution is excellent. 

However, as the design language is shrunken down to fit smaller vehicles, the look often becomes distorted and the proportions of the car are thrown off kilter. This is exactly what happened on the Mercedes GLK. 


On the other hand, BMW’s design language derives not from its large vehicles, but rather its smaller 3-Series and 5-Series sedans — historically, the spine of the company’s lineup. 

As a result, when it came time to style to the new X1, designers didn’t have to shrink down the design language. Instead, all they had to was tweak it for a taller SUV body.

The result is a compact crossover SUV with eye-pleasing proportions that’s unmistakably a BMW.