A BMW for skiers

Courtesy of BMW

Introducing the new BMW K2 Powder Ride, a car designed for skiers.

In November, legendary German automaker BMW, in partnership with K2 Skis, is set to unveil a flashy new compact wagon geared toward U.S. skiers and snowboarders. The BMW Concept K2 Powder Ride will essentially be an X1 all-wheel-drive "sports activity vehicle," with a number of features unique to the winter-ready model including a roof-mounted, high-end Harman Kardon sound system (for parking-lot après sessions) and a pair of limited-edition K2 skis.

This week, BMW supplied me with a standard X1 -- which debuted in U.S. dealerships earlier this fall -- to test drive for a week.

After some mild dirt- and snow-crusted-road analysis on Monday afternoon, I rallied it up to Loveland Ski Area's opening day on Tuesday, testing its handle on the steep, winding two-lane highway that crests Loveland Pass. Not surprisingly for a BMW, it responded well, maintaining balance even on tight curves at 40 mph. At one ironic moment, we pulled up behind a Subaru Outback (an overwhelmingly popular car among skiers), waited for a dotted yellow then blew past as if we'd been slingshot. This can be attributed to the extra 68 horses we had in our engine (241-173).

Courtesy of BMW

The BMW Powder Ride comes with roof-mounted speakers and a roof rack for skis.

I've driven Outbacks before, and based on driving performance alone, I'd consider the X1 an upgraded version of Subaru's ski-town favorite.

As of this week, the price for the vehicle remains unknown. The standard X1 starts around $30,000, and according to a BMW spokesman, the Powder Ride MSRP will be released next week. It'll be interesting to see how it compares with the 2013 Outback, which starts around $23,500.

In addition, the K2 Powder Ride will feature more suspension travel than standard X1s, 19-inch light alloy wheels and a diagonally tilted roof rack for skis. According to K2 global marketing manager Mike Gutt, the limited-edition skis will be built on the rockered SideShow chassis (sidecut profile: 132/90/115 millimeters, available in lengths of 167, 174 and 181 centimeters) with a custom topsheet graphic to match the car. Only 300 K2 Powder Rides (and the matching skis) will be sold, and it doesn't sound like they'll be produced in future years.

Of the car's inception, Gutt said: "The [K2-BMW] partnership started four years ago and up until this point has been primarily driven by our K2 Europe subsidiary. Earlier in the year, BMW approached K2 with the opportunity to create a co-branding K2/BMW vehicle," which essentially expanded the partnership to the U.S.

The orange, white and black wagon will be introduced at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November, around the time a production X1 Powder Ride that is unaffiliated with K2 hits the market.

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