calvin luk provides an exclusive insight into second-generation BMW X1
all images courtesy of the BMW group




immediately imposing an even bolder sense of sports activity vehicle DNA, the second generation BMW ‘X1’ has a very modernly sculpted form. this begins at the brand’s recognizable kidney grille and extends towards the car’s rear, through large bold lines. although starting at the bonnet, this styling is showcased on the side by its angled roofline, and at the rear with its dynamic ‘L’ shaped lights. its rugged proportions are much more like the other ‘X’ models, with a focus on the planted wheels, which adds to its powerful road presence.

front view of the ‘X1’




the car is actually shorter than the previous model, but has grown in height by 53 millimeters. this, as well as its clever compact design, has helped increase the spaciousness of the interior and allowed more room for the passengers, including 37 mm of extra knee space, and their luggage. a noticeable difference, when going inside the vehicle, is that the seating positions have been raised by 36 mm at the front, and 64 mm at the rear. this provides the users with a better view out over the driver-focused cockpit and over the road infront.

its very modern and sculpted form is highlighted by the bonnet’s bold lines




the design of this cockpit promotes authoritative, SAV-style driving pleasure and a contemporary premium ambiance. it supports the latest idrive operating system on a 6.5 inch display, which is integrated into the instrument panel like a freestanding monitor. further showing the automobile’s driver-focused interior, it includes a head-up display that projects driving-related information directly onto the windscreen.

the large BMW kidney grilles are the starting point of calvin’s design




in terms of performance, the BMW ‘X1’ offers a choice of four-cylinder engines: two petrol and three diesel units. transitioning through either a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed steptronic, its outputs range from 150 hp to 231 hp. furthermore, its xdrive intelligent allwheel-drive system uses an electro-hydraulically controlled multi-plate clutch to distribute power between the front and rear axle. this weight-saving, compact and efficient mechanism lowers fuel consumption and emissions by up 17%.

side profile of the sports activity vehicle




to learn more about the second-generation ‘X1’, which is scheduled for an october 2015 release, we talked with the exterior designer calvin luk, on a recent trip to munich, germany.




designboom (DB): replacing the first-generation, how were you able to create a car that fitted more with the X line family?


calvin luk (CL): well, with the exterior, there’s a few key ‘X’ DNA features. first of all, from the side view, the proportions obviously mean it’s a SUV or a SAV (sports activity vehicle), as we at BMW like to say. for me, the ‘X’ is its strength and the presence that it brings to the road. it is always a very confident car and shows a lot of power. that is manifested through very bold, strong and rectangular wheel arches that are typical of an ‘X’ car. you can see that the front fender has a lot of muscle to it, and that the rear also has a very nicely sculpted and muscular fender. This provides a solid stance that is very powerfully planted on to the road. from this logic of the body and fenders, you come to the front. this is the most impacting and dramatic design of the car. the presence of the kidney grille is larger, is very bold and is immediately recognizable of BMW. the fog lamps, on the side, also shows its ‘Xness’, through its activity and lifestyle. overall, it’s the stance, the power, the muscularity and then the presence of the front that brings the ‘Xness’.


CL: it’s not just about being powerful because sometimes, in the car world, this could be purely determined as its engine. in terms of the design, I think it’s the impact and strength of its presence that creates an image in your head and means it cannot be missed at a glance.





DB: you’ve spoken a lot about the details of the front but could you outline some of the key design features of the rear?


CL: on the rear, we have these classic BMW ‘L’ tail lights but, due to the bend of the ‘X’ car, makes it more into a ‘T’ shape. its drop-down extenuates the direction towards the wheel, which in turn, plants it downwards. this aids the stance and the aerodynamics. it also marks the width of the vehicle and emphasizes the positioning of the wheels on the outside. this combines to create a strong and sporty feeling.

the recognizable ‘L’ shaped tail lights




DB: how were these details developed? did it start when sketching, when creating a clay model or was it an interchanging dialogue between both processes?


CL: it starts with a sketch but the initial ideas are sculpted in photoshop. I say sculpted because to me, photoshop is not just rendering the linse. when you are rendering, you are sculpturing. you are adding light and adding shadow so that means you are creating three-dimensional shapes. the next challenge is to translate that into something actually 3D. that comes first from a computer phase and then a clay stage. this enables you to experience it physically when standing there as a fully scale model. there, you see the sculpture differently because its right in front of you. perhaps some of the ideas in the sketches do not manifest themselves how you imagined them on paper. in addition, once you are in the physical model, there are a lot of technical requirements, such as the engine, that needs to be worked out. this is its packaging and can mean that the design has to be adapted.

rear view of the SUV




DB: there must have been quite a lot of expectations when developing the new model. was there anything that you wanted to focus on, or were there any details that you wanted to include but were not able to achieve?


CL: in terms of our process, we start with a sketching competition that involves many designers. this means that there are many directions at the beginning. each designer brings his or her view and interpretation, based on the brief. slowly, in a competition phase, we move from 20-30 proposals, to six computer modes, to four clay modes, to two clay models, until there is one selected design. my direction was to create a strong volume that went through the car. when you see the car, its very solid but very agile at the same time. it started from the kidneys and then the pure volume made its way to the back. through this logic, you still have certain solidarity to the form, but without adding artificial lines.

the driver-focused cockpit promotes a contemporary premium ambiance




37mm of extra knee room has been added for the passengers