The Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 had better watch out.
While it has been around for quite some time, the BMW X1 still remains one of the most competitive vehicles in its class. One trick the brand has missed, however, is a performance variant. Stateside, Mercedes offers the fairly rapid GLA 35 AMG, and elsewhere, Audi's five-cylinder RSQ3 is made available elsewhere to those who want their crossover to offer neck-snapping acceleration.
With a Life Cycle Impulse (facelift) due shortly, it seems the engineers in Munich are working on a riposte to the aforementioned rivals. First seen in November 2021, the BMW X1 M35i (or M40i?) has now been spotted winter testing in very icy conditions. In the video below, the sporty compact SUV can be seen spinning all four tires in the snow, as engineers test several key matters surrounding the traction control and xDrive all-wheel-drive system.
While the camouflage hides major design details, there are two major characteristics that stand out. The first is the round quad exhaust tips. Normally a feature reserved for BMW full-fat M models, the X1 M35i test unit can be seen with the exhaust layout, suggesting that either the Bavarian brand is changing the exhaust design on upcoming M models, or this X1 will be a pure M variant as part of the performance division's 50th anniversary.
The other is the enlarged radiator grille. Although this will most likely be worn by the entire range, it does show that the X7's massive kidney design is affecting other models more and more, including the upcoming facelifted X5. Expect more aggressive bumpers and a sportier stance, as seen on the current-generation X2 M35i. While we're on the bumpers, the lower air dam seems squared as on the upcoming 2023 M2...
The newcomer will most likely be powered by the same turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that currently does duty in the aforementioned X2 and M235i Gran Coupe. With 301 horsepower on tap, the pair is able to reach 60 mph in 4.7 and 4.2 seconds, respectively. Pricing is likely to be around the same price point as the two, with the Gran Coupe retailing from $45,500 and the X2 M35i at slightly more. The X1 M35i will probably be priced around the same point as the other two. The Gran Coupe comes in at $45,500 while the X2 M35i is pricier, at $46,450.
Of course, all this speculation would be far off if this is indeed a full M car, an X1 M, if you will. We'll find out soon enough, but the X1 isn't the only BMW that has been subjected to strenuous testing. Watch the video closely and you'll see what is likely to be the X7 facelift, parked next to the upcoming 7 Series. 2022 looks to be a very exciting year for BMW.