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BMW X1 vs X3: Will the choice confuse buyers?

BMW X1, Featured Posts | April 4th, 2012 by 25
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In the eve of the 2012 New York Auto Show, we take the time to take a closer look at the new BMW X1 and …

In the eve of the 2012 New York Auto Show, we take the time to take a closer look at the new BMW X1 and how the company will choose to position the entry-level SAV in the U.S. market.

The 2013 BMW X1 will arrive at BMW dealerships in the fall of 2012 and will be offered in three variants: sDrive28i, xDrive28i and xDrive35i. The three models will retail for $31,545, $33,245 and $39,345 respectively (including $895 Destination and Handling).

In comparison, the BMW X3 xDrive28i has a base price of $37,995, while the top model, xDrive35i, sells for $43,995.

BMW X1 vs X3: Will the choice confuse buyers?

Even prior to the official announcement, BMWBLOG team posed the following questions: What will be the biggest differentiators between the two vehicles and will the U.S. buyers be confused with the many “X-choices”?

Chuck Vossler:

IMHO the big differentiator is going to be cost. If BMW can price the X1 significantly lower than the X3 than they shouldn’t cannibalize sales from themselves. BMW of Canada shows a base X1 at $38,500 and a X3 at $41,900 with the same 2.0 motor. That’s not much of a difference unless the base X1 has a lot more equipment on it. If BMW USA does that it could be a tough sell to the U.S. public.

The X3 seems to be more sport-ute’ish than the X1, whereas the X1 seems to almost be a crossover vehicle, kind of the segment that Subaru occupies – a large, tall, all-wheel drive wagon.

The demographic is tough, could be same people. It would just come down to if you want a wagon or an SUV. In the United States the SUV image sells better.

BMW put a silver highlight at the bottom that wasn’t there in the original Euro models to make it appear it has a higher ground clearance than it really does. Truthfully neat optical trick.

Hugo Becker:

My take is the X1 has to be conquest sales, the Toyota RAV-4 CRV buyers looking to move up. If I were pitching the difference between the X1 and X3 to a customer, I would say there is more utility in the X3, but the X1 is well suited for a small family or an urban dweller.

Here’s a way of looking at the X1 versus the Toyota Venza. The latter is a mini-van posing as a four-door wagon. The X1 is a four-door wagon posing as an SUV.

In the U.S. market the 1 Series is not viewed by buyers as an entry level vehicle. The 1 Series, in both 128i and 135i form, has found a home with enthusiasts. We wouldn’t be surprised, for instance, if the percent take rate of manual transmissions is higher for the 1 Series than the 3 Series. The 3 Series remains the aspirational vehicle and the car intended to do conquest sales from other premium models. And, in most cases, the 3 Series is the entry point for car buyers to the brand.

With that said, the X1 has an opportunity to be a true entry level product, and not a niche product like the 1 Series, in the U.S. market. The X1, if priced correctly/competitively, can be the entry into the X models. It should be a mainstream product, not regarded as a niche and marketed heavily to buyers that want to move up to a premium experience in a sport utility. In that sense the X1 has an opportunity to generate conquest sales and bring buyers into the brand.

If it were my job, that’s how I would position the X1.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more BMW X1 coverage from the 2012 NYC Auto Show.

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  • Nomad

    If to compare X1 and X3 with beautiful RR Evoque or MB GLK begins sadly. It is surprising, that they well are on sale.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EJ6URKRKDJRWM76IDT2DHX366A Jom Beam

    X1 is for the person that can’t afford a X5, tried for the X3, but had to settle for less.

    Who cares if it has no manual, it’s n SAV people!

    • KCG

      There are lots of people who can’t afford a more expensive BMW but don’t mind trading up from a Honda CRV or Toyota RAV4 to get a high performance, high gas mileage SUV that is competitively priced. Pretty sure that’s the market BMW has in mind, and there’s nothing wrong with that strategy.

    • KCG

      There are lots of people who can’t afford a more expensive BMW but don’t mind trading up from a Honda CRV or Toyota RAV4 to get a high performance, high gas mileage SUV that is competitively priced. Pretty sure that’s the market BMW has in mind, and there’s nothing wrong with that strategy.

  • Viper

    x1 looks better from front but doesnt have the size of x3 , Id choose neither of them.

  • SLAM

    Both cars have their place, but prefer the X3 as this would be larger, includes more features and includes the same fuel efficient N20 engine as the X1.  The price difference is less than $4,000, so the choice might seem obvious which is the better vehicle.

    • Anonymous

      A friend of mine leases and has had two X3s, the first gen and current gen.  She thought the original X3 was too big and certainly feels the same about the current X3, she just wants the extra ride height.  Even if they’re rated the same the X1 will still get better gas mileage due to the reduction in weight.  

      My girlfriend is close to being in the market for a new SUV.  SH=he currently has a Ford Escape and really wants the Q5 (which I think is much nicer than the X3) but I could probably talk her into the X1 due to being less expensive and getting better gas mileage.  She only needs the extra storage capacity when we go camping and I bet the X1 could accommodate that.  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ID4X4IJCBHZ6YGYHHX22RFT3JQ Rolitto

    BMW X3 all the way. I didn’t like the X1.

  • Anonymous

    X1 in theory should be more fun to drive as you can get it with RWD (instead of BMW’s bad xDrive system), so it’ll be lighter and it’s got a smaller footprint.  

    The X1 is, on paper, the car my wife would buy as a move from her Audi.  She wants more performance but not much/if any extra space.  The X5 and X3 are massive vehicles designed for Americans.  X1 is, in terms of size, proper.  

    • Anonymous

      No one buys a CUV/SUV for RWD.

      • Anonymous

        BMW refuses to offer a compact wagon in the USA so the X1 is as close as we can get to a sporty, entry-lux wagon in the us.  If BMW sold a 1 series hatch or sedan I’d have one right now.  But the 1 is oddly only a coupe and with a kid, that’s not easy for those car seats.  The X1 might convince us not to defect to Golf R this year.

        Right now with the lack of manuals and the really bad option packing BMW seems to be saying to us – if you want fun, some ala carte luxury and some performance, look only at our used vehicles.    

      • Scotthogsett

        No one buys a SUV for rear wheel drive because no one offers it stupid. Virtually every SUV on the market is front wheel drive or all wheel drive. Same goes for most cars ie Audi vs BMW.

        • Anonymous

          And for good reason they don’t offer it anymore, if you go a few years back you can even find rwd pickup trucks?

          Do you know why people buy suvs as opposed to normal cars? Yes there are some people that claim they are safer or others buy it for the status symbol but the real reason for SUVs is the ground clearance. Ground clearance when you want to use an suv like it should actually be used. The only way I would justify an SUV and not taking it offroad is for winter use and guess what awd is much better in the snow than rwd.

          And your last point is funny. “Same goes for most cars” look at BMWs range all of their cars come in rwd and xdrive as an option while some don’t even have Xdrive.

          • Hanswee

             there are tons of rwd pickup trucks.  are you kidding?  in CA probably 75% of the pickups are RWD only.

        • Hanswee

          well there is the GLK which is rwd.  they should have just offered the X3 as rwd.  problem solved.   the X1 is awful looking just like the new 1 series.

  • SLAM

    I just ordered the 2013 – X3 2.8 for late May delivery.   Considered the X1, but less luxurious and smaller space for the relatively $4,000 savings.   Audi Q5 was really nice with similiar drive, but the model is already 4 years old and little change expected in the next few years.  MB GLK is smaller, drive quality is poor and not as fuel efficient.  XC60 is not even attempted because it is a Volvo. 

    Very happy with my choice as this would be my first BMW after driving MB for many years! 

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  • Cardinal 732

    I just leased the X1 and I love it! I did not want a full SUV I just wanted a little more height and a little more cargo space. This vehicle is perfect for me. I have driven the 328xi models for the past 12 years and for me the X1 was just what I was looking for. I was considering a small SAV/SUV or a wagon and the X1 fit the bill for me. This model came out just as it was time for me to turn in my 4th 328×1 and I am extremely happy with the X1. It drives well and BMW did a great job with filling the bill for those in the market for a classy wagon/compact SAV what ever anyone wants to call it there is a market for this vehicle. I’m sure it will do well.

    • http://www.bmwblog.com Horatiu B.

      What made you choose it over the X3?

    • KCG

      Sounds good, thinking of trading in my CRV to get the X1 instead.The CRV is underpowered, especially as it ages.The X1 gets comparable gas mileage while delivering better engine performance.

    • KCG

      Sounds good, thinking of trading in my CRV to get the X1 instead.The CRV is underpowered, especially as it ages.The X1 gets comparable gas mileage while delivering better engine performance.

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