Before you start criticising BMW for having the audacity of putting quad exhausts on a four-cylinder car, let's have a look at the competition. Audi Sport has been selling the S3 with a four-pot and a front-wheel-drive-based platform for many years. Mercedes-AMG's "45" also has a small 2.0-litre engine and is derived from a FWD architecture while packing four round tips at the back.
While the M135i hatchback, M235i Gran Coupe, and the X2 M35i both have dual tips, the next-generation X1 will be the first to rock a quad arrangement. It'll also be the first M Performance version of BMW's smallest crossover, but it won't necessarily have the most power ever. The original E84 came with an inline-six dialled to 300 bhp in the xDrive35i specification. Coincidentally, that's roughly about as much as the current crop of "235i" models.
Gallery: 2023 BMW X1 M35i spied in northern Sweden
Visibly larger than the outgoing model, the next BMW X1 was seen undergoing last-minute testing in northern Sweden. The performance crossover was caught in a winter wonderland featuring a more grown-up look rather than being the ugly duckling of the X lineup. Aside from the look-at-me exhaust, you can tell by the size of the front brakes it's a spicy version. The production model will sit lower to the road than the regular X1 trim levels and should come with larger wheels since these are a provisional winter set.
Aside from growing in size and getting some M-derived goodies, the new X1 will have a fresh door handle design in line with the latest 2 Series Coupe and 2 Series Active Tourer. Borrowed from the minivan will also be the iDrive 8 infotainment with a pair of screens sitting next to one another, housed within a single piece of glass.
As with the compact models mentioned from rival brands, the M35i will be sold exclusively with all-wheel drive and most likely an automatic transmission as well. It'll be built in Leipzig from later this year, alongside the next Mini Countryman – the first time when a factory in Germany puts together cars from different brands within the BMW Group.
Both will be out by the end of 2022, complete with purely electric versions.