Beside the new 5 Series GT, the 2010 BMW X1 model has been one of the most debated and argued over topics here at BMWBLOG in the past few months. The new X1 SAV is the latest vehicle from BMW that is looking to take over another niche: a smaller, let’s say, mini SUV.

Many will already argue that the X1 will in fact take the place of first generation BMW X3 which will receive a much needed makeover next year, but truth is that the X1 will fit into a category where the main players will be the upcoming Audi Q3 and a new smaller SAV based on the B-Class platform from Mercedes-Benz.

The BMW X1 will initially launch in the European markets, but it will make it to the U.S by the end of 2010. So testing the car can be quite difficult these days and only a few selected publications had the opportunity to get their hands on one, Car and Driver, is one of them and the least we can do is to give you their impressions on the X1.

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The X1 definitely wants to be the sports car in the compact-SUV segment. The Servo­tronic steering system is tuned comparably to the 3-series’ helm and feels much more responsive than the X3’s. The optional Sport package lowers the ride height by 0.8 inch and comes with 18-inch wheels and tires in place of the standard 17-inchers. Despite this, it’s more comfortable than the X3 and exhibits better body control in taking corners. Harsh impacts cause fewer tremors than in the X3.

Exactly what the X1’s niche is, though, we’re not quite sure: the sporty member of the really small and expensive cute-ute category, perhaps? When it goes on sale, it will be in a class of three, joined by the Land Rover LRX and the Audi Q3, and it will likely start at about $36,000.

Zero to 62 mph: 6.8 sec
Top speed (governor limited): 127 mph

EPA city/highway driving: 18/25 mpg

Continue reading at Car and Driver