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Paris: Mini Crossman and BMW X1

Paris debut for two small SUVs which go hand in hand

Two small soft-roaders debut at Paris, getting their first public unveils at the French motor show. Some of their development has been joint, due to Mini's BMW-stewardship, although the two would struggle to look more different.

The BMW X1 is best described as an X3-lite, which itself is an X5-lite. In fact, the X1 is barely smaller than the X3 - with an estimated £25k to match. Looks are inspired by the all-new 7-series, signaling a new, less controversial direction for BMW styling. Expect the company's Efficient Dynamics to be used to full effect, though, making the X1 one of the greenest SUVs on sale.

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The Mini Crossman (or Crossover Concept, seeing as this isn't production-spec yet) should be just as environmentally-aware, but with a completely different style. Think of it as a jumped-up Clubman, with the desirable high-riding view and chunky body of a 4x4 without any of the black looks or parking woes. It is noticeably the biggest Mini yet, measuring in at around the size of a Focus. Now is the right time to launch the Crossman, too, with Mini sales bucking the downturn in the economy with further rises.

Interestingly, the much-lauded Clubman makes up for a fifth of the brand's sales now - giving a good forecast for the fortunes of the Crossman, when the production version hits the streets in 2010. Expect the usual 1.6-litre Cooper and Cooper S petrol versions, as well as the Cooper D, which should get a lot of the sales.

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