Jonathan Burn 2019-07-25 10:00
The new BMW Urban X will be the brand’s smallest SUV, and our exclusive images preview how it could look
BMW is in the final stages of a plan to add a new baby SUV to its model range, in an attempt to capitalise on the growth of affordable, compact crossovers.
The firm has one of the largest SUV line-ups in the industry, stretching from the X1 to the X7. During the first half of 2019 almost 45 per cent of the company’s sales were made up of SUVs – the highest figures the firm has ever recorded, and up almost 10 per cent on the same period last year.
The rapid rise in the popularity of SUVs has encouraged bosses to look at other areas of opportunity. The first will be a crossover measuring between 4.1 and 4.2 metres to take on the likes of the Audi Q2 and new DS 3 Crossback. For context, BMW’s smallest current SUV, the X2, measures in at 4,360mm long.
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Previewed by our exclusive images, the new crossover will retain many of BMW’s trademark styling cues, such as the bold kidney grille and thin LED headlamps. But, the biggest differentiator will come in the car’s name; it’s understood that this new model will be the first SUV to break away from BMW’s X1 to X7 naming structure; Urban X (pronounced Urban Cross) is understood to be the frontrunner.
Thanks to BMW’s expansive product portfolio, a lot of the Urban X’s running gear can be cherry-picked from the firm’s existing vehicles. The firm’s smallest and latest architecture, called UKL2, has been developed from the well known front-wheel-drive platform that first appeared in 2014, and UKL2 will form a base for the new Urban X.
Crucially the platform is already equipped for electrification. From the 48-volt mild-hybrid system to powerful plug-in hybrid powertrains and even a fully electric set-up with a range of more than 240 miles, BMW already has a full suite of powertrain options to give the Urban X a fighting chance of success from the moment it launches.
As a plug-in hybrid, and even in pure-electric guise, an electrified rear axle would allow four-wheel drive to be introduced – the same principle can be seen on the existing 2 Series Active Tourer MPV; the 225xe’s 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine sends power to the front wheels and an electric motor drives the rears.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult for premium manufacturers to ignore the growing trend of small SUVs. Between 2011 and 2016, global sales increased from 950,000 to 4.45 million vehicles. By next year, analysts are expecting this to rise to about 7.5 million.
Audi has also flirted with the idea of developing an even smaller crossover, called the Q1. Audi CEO Bram Schot told us: “Don’t be surprised if you see the car in two or three years, as we react fast to markets.”
Baby SUV rivals
Audi was the first premium brand to launch a baby crossover with the Q2; a Q1 could also be on the way.
DS 3 Crossback
DS is looking to compete with the German premium brands, starting with its small electric crossover
What do you think of our exclusive BMW Urban X images? Let us know your thoughts below…
Associated Advanced Gallery New BMW Urban X crossover to take on Audi Q2 – pictures