LONGER, wider and definitely sleeker BMW's new X1 has emerged with a dramatic new look.
Now in its third incarnation the smallest of the German luxury car maker's SUV models has undergone a radical transformation both inside and out, ensuring that it will now appeal to a much wider market.
Good as the Mk1 and Mk2 versions were they were visually far more staid and upright, appealing more to an older set of buyers.
All that has been swept away, however, with a new, long tapering roofline which flows into a large rear window spoiler giving the model a rakish streamlined look.
Accentuated wheel arches trimmed with contrasting body cladding and deep cuts in the metal across the doors all add to the glamorous new styling while at the front there's a large, almost square BMW kidney grille.
Not to be outdone the interior too has a new look, with trendy, re-styled seats offering more space for front and rear seat passengers while the dashboard features BMW's curved display screen made up of a 10.25-inch information display and a 10.7-inch control display which merge into a single unit behind a continuous glass surface curved towards the driver.
But perhaps the most noticeable interior feature is the "floating" armrest which houses not only the push button stop/start and electric handbrake but also the compact gear shift slide as well.
This all leaves the dashboard itself clutter free, especially as almost everything is controlled from the touch screen. There are no less than 39 icons on the screen, however, which is more than I have on the desktop of my laptop and many involve drop-down menus which doesn't help when trying to keep your eyes on the road.
There's a seven model line up in the range but the car driven here is the all-wheel-drive xDrive231 xLine, a mild hybrid with a 19hp horsepower electric motor backing up the 218bhp, four-cylinder, 2.0-litre petrol engine.
Like all mild hybrids you are not really aware of the presence of the electric motor because there is no need to plug anything in but its presence was always felt in the impressive fuel consumption which over a week's motoring was around 45mpg.
And the performance too was lively and more sporting than you might expect from a relatively large SUV - despite being the smallest of BMW's X-model line-up - hitting 62 miles per hour in just 7.1 seconds and going onto a top speed of 145 mph.
It's a car that always feels well planted and the handling for such a high vehicle is top notch, with hardly any body roll.
At the same time the X1 is a supremely comfortable and refined car which cocoons you from the outside world as you glide along in near silence.
And as you would expect from BMW everything feels solid and well put together with doors closing easily with a nice solid clunk.
The seven-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and seamless in operation but there is no facility on this model to change gear manually which would have been useful at times.
Still you do get the option of a variety of driving modes to give you plenty of variation in your motoring.
There are also plenty of options when it comes to the spec of the individual vehicle. The car I drove, for example, had everything from a head-up display and heated steering wheel to a panoramic glass sunroof and Harman/Kardon sound system, all part of different option packs available, although it did increase the overall price by more than £8,000.
There's no problem when it comes to luggage with the X1 as it can swallow up with 540 litres beneath the powered tailgate, although you have to pay extra if you want the flexibility of sliding rear seats.
There's no doubt BMW has done a great job with the creation of the latest X1 in terms of looks, practicality and driving dynamics.