While years ago automakers tried to temper the characteristics of their off-road vehicles to make them more feasible to every day usage and thus created the sport utility vehicles segment, today’s crossovers are slowly reaching out towards their historic roots.
For example, BMW engineers that worked on the second-generation of the make’s entry-level SUV they had the task of making it feel more like one of the “older” brethrens. Executives described the process as being surrounded by the intangible characteristic of “X-ness.” According to X1 project leader Ralf Graeser, owners of the first generation X1 wanted the successor to be larger and with more interior space, while also delivering a higher seating position and more off-road features. BMW delivered the new X1 taller, wider and with an elevated front seat position that also allowed for ampler room in the back. Peter Wolf, senior vice president of BMW’s small cars product line says the modifications were possible thanks to the new UKL front-wheel-drive architecture on the new SUV, which is also used by the new range of Mini brand cars. The X1 is the first SUV to use UKL, while the BMW brand also employs it on the newly introduced 2-series Active Tourer and Gran Tourer minivans.
The automaker’s all-wheel-drive system has been rendered through the eyes of energy efficiency optimization, using now an electro-hydraulically controlled multi-plate clutch to deliver power between front and back when needed. Wolf added that while the system uses just front wheel drive when conditions allow it, switching to all-wheel drive will take less than a millisecond.
Via Automotive News Europe