Until very recently, my only experience with camouflaged pre-production vehicles was trying to decode the updated lines and bodywork as their spy shots graced the pages of my favorite car magazines. This week, however, I was fortunate enough to be invited to Mallorca, Spain to drive BMW's new X1 SUV, not only before it hits showroom floors, but before it even sees the assembly line.
Car companies rarely, if ever, allow us journalist types to see, let alone drive, a project that hasn't been completed, but BMW evidently felt confident enough with the progress of the X1 to start showing it off.
After having a chance to put it through its paces, I can see why. Aside from some fine-tuning from the driving dynamics team and the fitment of some interior bits and pieces, the current X1 is darn close to what European customers will experience when it is launches in Europe soon. North Americans will have to wait for the 2011 (or possibly even 2012) model, likely to arrive sometime in late 2010 or '11.
More: BMW X1 xDrive 23d Prototype