The Incredible Shrinking…German SUV

It’s hip to be small. Well, at least it is when fuel prices increase.

The BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz ML, Porsche Cayenne and Audi’s Q7 make up the current roster of mid-size premium German SUVs. All in competition with one-another, they each have their own list of strengths and are excellent vehicles.

With the success of their X5 which debuted in 1999, BMW decided to downsize and began producing the smaller X3 in 2003. Until now they have been the sole German manufacturer in this category – key phrase “until now”…

Say hello to the Audi Q5 and the Mercedes-Benz GLK, a couple of small SUVs or “crossovers” targeted squarely at the X3 and rising fuel costs. They will be in showrooms next year and should both do well. (The Audi Q5 being our current preference.)

Not ones to rest on their laurels, the folks at BMW are countering with a two pronged attack. The first vehicle is a completely new X3, due out in 2010.

The second is an even smaller CUV (crossover utility vehicle) due out next year. The X1, as it will be called, has been shown in thinly disguised concept form (shown above), with the final version to appear soon. Technical details are slowly trickling out, but we know that there will be full time all-wheel drive and that the engine choices will likely be similar to those in the current 1-series cars.

Will Audi, Mercedes and Porsche counter with X1 competitors? We will continue monitoring the market and let you know as things develop. In the mean-time, keep an eye out for future reviews on these and other incredible shrinking vehicles…