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The BMW X1 has hit the Chinese patent office in long wheelbase guise and this gives us a chance to have an early look ahead of the model’s 2016 launch.

There aren’t any surprises in terms of design as the main difference between the standard five-seater and this new version is the stretched wheelbase. The rear doors are significantly longer and come with bigger windows to let more light inside the cabin that can accommodate an extra two rear seats. However, there’s not going to be a lot of room available on that third row since headroom will be limited, so most likely the seats will be suitable mostly for kids.

The vehicle will ride on the same UKL platform as the standard X1 and will be offered with an assortment of three- and four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines along with a plug-in hybrid setup. Front-wheel drive is going to be standard, but the beefier engines will be optionally paired to an xDrive arrangement.

While the regular model has a wheelbase measuring 105.1 inches (2,670 mm), the seven-seater will likely be elongated by at least 4 inches (100 mm) to free up cabin room. With all the seven seats in place, the cargo capacity will be very limited given the car’s small size, but BMW believes that won’t be a deal breaker for people in the market for this SAV.

An official reveal is expected to occur in the following months, so it should go on sale by mid-2016. It will be interesting to see whether BMW is going to sell the seven-seater X1 all over the world or it will be a China-only model.

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Gallery: BMW X1 long wheelbase leaks via patent images

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