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Compact SUVs are currently quite the thing in the car industry.
Buyers of 4x4s in the early noughties became hooked on the raised seating position and its perceived safety benefits, but a recession and years of rising fuel prices dampened that ardour. However, carmakers' ability to build small SUVs on the same platforms as hatchbacks had led to the current trend.
Take the brand new BMW X1. Built on the same (slightly modified) platform as the Mini, the new X1 looks like an SUV - certainly much more than the first-generation model, launched in 2008, did. Better proportioned than its predecessor, it looks more robust and much more like its larger X3 and X5 siblings.
The cabin also feels more spacious, thanks in part to the additional 66mm of legroom in the rear. Finding more space for passengers hasn't compromised the boot capacity, either: an additional 85 litres compared with the last generation means 505 litres in total, or 1550 litres when the 40:20:40 split rear bench is folded down.
The seats have also been raised throughout and, in the driver's case, affords a better view of the road, especially in tandem with the optional head-up display, available as part of the Navigation Plus package.
At launch, there will be a four-engine line-up, comprising a 189hp 20i petrol unit and three diesels: a 148hp 18d, a 187hp 20d and the 228hp 25d. We tested the range-topping variant, which had plenty of performance at its disposal (0-62mph takes just 6.6 seconds) and felt refined and usable.
An official 56.5mpg and 132g/km of CO2 are decent enough economy figures (on paper), so running costs should be under control. However, the economy champion is undoubtedly the front-wheel-drive-only sDrive 18d, with its 65.7mpg and 114g/km emissions.
On the road, the X1 handles assuredly, without too much body roll for a relatively high-sided car, and it rides well, especially with the (again, optional) variable dampers allowing the driver to adjust the suspension, throttle and steering settings to their driving style and the road conditions using the Driving Experience Control switch on the centre console.
The X1 is a more grown-up proposition compared with the rather gauche, awkward-looking car that BMW launched seven years ago. It now wears its SUV aspirations with considerably more style and panache, a swagger that is supported by BMW's emphasis on efficient powerplants and rewarding driving dynamics. If other carmakers can come close to this template, the compact crossover is a trend that is here to stay.
BMW X1 xDrive 25d Sport
Model price range £26,780-£36,060
Residual value 38.1%
Service, maintenance and repair £3148
Vehicle Excise Duty £390
National Insurance £3565
Cost per mile 73.0p
Fuel consumption 56.5mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 132g/km (24%)
BIK 20/40% per month £144/£287
Warranty 3yrs/unlimited miles
Boot space (min/max) 505/1550 litres
Engine size/power 1995cc/231hp
Big improvement on the first generation in all areas and will give the Audi Q3 a run for its money
More efficient three-cylinder diesel engines not in UK line-up