With the second-generation X1 less than a year away from its official unveiling, BMW is hard at work testing pre-production prototypes of the car in various locations around the world. In fact, two similarly camouflaged X1s were shot by spy photographers on the same day – one doing cold weather testing in Northern Sweden and the other one being thrashed around a sunny Nurburgring Nordschleife.

As most of you know, the 2016 X1 is BMW’s second FWD-based car, after the 2 Series Active Tourer (and Gran Tourer, more recently). Don’t think that all versions will be FWD though, as the U.S. is expected to only get xDrive all-wheel-drive models, and top of the range versions will be AWD regardless of the market. That said, the new all-wheel-drive system will still behave primarily like a FWD system, with power being diverted toward the rear axle only during hard acceleration or when the rear tires begin to lose traction. The 2016 X1 is likely to use a classic Haldex differential to handle the output going to the rear wheels, so expect the model to handle pretty much like a larger Mini Countryman, to which it’s related anyway.

Though not officially confirmed, BMW could be also working on a "five-door-coupe" version of the X1, to be named either X2 or Urban Cross, depending on which source you believe. More on that when and if BMW starts testing the model on public roads.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 BMW X1.

Why it matters

Despite my general distaste for most high-bodied cars that would fair no better than a FWD econobox on an off-road trail, the current X1 is actually one of my favorite models from the BMW lineup. It’s not the prettiest car out there and it’s certainly not very good off-road. On the other hand, the slightly raised suspension is perfect for rougher roads, but at the same time it isn’t raised enough to compromise the model’s handling on the twisties. Combined with a pretty good engine lineup, somewhat small footprint and a RWD-based all-wheel-drive system, the X1 is like a better version of the 3 Series Wagon in my book.

Unfortunately, the second generation will be nothing but yet another FWD-based crossover with a jacked-up price, as there is no way in hell that BMW will make it as exciting to drive as the current model, given the platform used. In other words, you might want to stock up on the current X1 while you can, because the 2016 model is likely to be a disappointment for old-school enthusiasts. On the other hand, the extra interior space brought by a FWD-based architecture will probably be met with acclaim by heathens with no interest in BMW’s famed driving pleasure.

2016 BMW X1 - spy shots

2016 BMW X1 Gets Tested Everywhere: Spy Shots Exterior Spyshots
- image 621697
2016 BMW X1 Gets Tested Everywhere: Spy Shots Exterior Spyshots
- image 621707
2016 BMW X1 Gets Tested Everywhere: Spy Shots Exterior Spyshots
- image 621704
What do you think?
Car Finder: