Just when it starts to look like BMW has created a car to fill just about every niche it could possible conceive, rumors begin to emerge about a future niche-filling model in development. Where could the German automaker go beyond Gran Coupe, Grand Tourer, Gran Turismo and coupe-inspired crossovers? If Automobile Magazine is right, BMW is working on a new off-road version of the 1 Series that could wear the Sport Cross name.

Going after the active-lifestyle crowd who demand a somewhat capable vehicle that isn’t too expensive or harsh on the environment, the BMW 1 Series Sport Cross is expected to be ready for European customers by 2018. It will essentially split the difference between the existing 1 Series hatchback and the X1 crossover, while having its own distinctive look and feel. It’s not likely that the 1 Series Sport Cross will be the Ultimate Off-Road Driving Machine, but BMW could definitely have a nifty soft-roader on its hands when this thing debuts.

Note: Standard BMW 1 Series pictured here.

Continue reading to learn more about the BMW 1 Series Sport Cross.

Exterior

Without so much as a prototype or test mule to go on at this point, there is no telling what the BMW 1 Series Sport Cross will look like. At this point, neither does BMW, as rumors indicate that the styling of the 1 Series Sport Cross has not been finalized yet, but will be completely different from any other BMW models. This will likely mean a combination of different design cues found on current BMWs mixed with a healthy dose of chunky styling for a more rugged, SUV-like appearance. Initially, a five-door hatchback is expected to launch in 2018, and a year later a three-door model will be available.

Interior

According to the source for this information – an “internal paper” indicates that, like the X6 and X4, the BMW 1 Series Sport Cross could sacrifice some interior space in favor of exterior design. The 1 Series and X1 already have tight rear seating quarters, and the 1 Series Sport Cross could get even more cramped.

Drivetrain

By sharing a platform with the 1 Series derivatives, the 1 Series Sport Cross could use any of the current hatchback’s 10 engines. It’s most likely, though, that this model would have a limited number of options, similar to how BMW configures the niche X4 crossover compared to the mainstream X3 (off which the X4 is based).

Prices

Expect the BMW 1 Series Sport Cross to be priced somewhere between the 1 Series hatchback, which starts at about $25,000 in Germany (not currently offered in the U.S.) and the $31,200 X1. The report also says that BMW plans to build 250,000 1 Series Sport Cross units globally over the lifespan of the vehicle, but there is no indication as to how long that might be. Most current BMW models have a shelf life of six to seven years, so that would equate to around 42,000 1 Series Sport Cross models being shipped to North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia each year.

Competition

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class High Resolution Exterior
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For now, it sounds like the closest thing to what the BMW 1 Series Sport Cross will be is the new Mercedes GLA-Class. Although the GLA is priced close to the X1, its mix of subcompact hatchback and small crossover make it a different animal altogether. It still has the sportiness of a small car, while its slightly lifted ride height and plentiful cargo space make it a prototypical soft-roader. On top of that, the GLA is also similar to the 1 Series Sport Cross in that the overall vehicle is definitely driven more by style rather than comfort. Unlike the GLA45 AMG, though, I don’t foresee BMW doing an M-tuned performance version of the Sport Cross.

Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque High Resolution Exterior
- image 618382

Although the Range Rover Evoque is larger and more expensive than the BMW 1 Series Sport Cross will be, the two body styles may be very similar. The Evoque is arguably one of the better-looking utility vehicles on the market, and Land Rover just unveiled the 2016 model at the Geneva Motor Show. One of the biggest changes coming to the 2016 Evoque is a new lineup of engines, which will not be making their way to U.S.-spec models. One key difference between the Evoque and the 1 Series Sport Cross is that I don’t really expect the future BMW model to have anywhere near the off-road chops all Range Rovers do.

Conclusion

While vehicles like the X6, 4 Series Gran Coupe and 2 Series Gran Tourer are major head-scratchers, the BMW 1 Series Sport Cross is actually an interesting niche utility concept that could make sense. With a mix of soft-road ruggedness and BMW luxury, there is no direct competitor like the 1 Series Sport Cross currently on the market. There’s still a few more years before the Sport Cross will be ready for production, but I wouldn’t be surprised to start seeing concept vehicles popping up in the next year or two to hint at a possible production model.

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    • * Still only a rumor at this point

Source: Automobile Magazine

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