This is BMW’s second front wheel drive model, the new 1-series compact sedan and it has production bodywork in the photos taken. The front drive idea may take a while to sink in though. The car should be competing against the A3 Sedan from Audi and the CLA-class from Mercedes-Benz which are also front wheel drive which is probably why this is as well.
The car that has been photographed is a compact and it shares features with the BMW 2-series Active Tourer but it will be called 1-series because sedans have to have an odd numbered badge. A series-1 was sold in the past in the states but it was very different being a rear wheel drive coupe or convertible with two doors which was then succeeded by the 2-series. It is confusing with all of these numbers and names but BMW have even numbers for two door vehicles and four door coupes as well as the front drive Active Tourer mini minivan. Really it is not that important but it is worth noting that the 1-series sedan is very different to the one numeral higher car which is not normally the trend with BMW. In fact it is very different to any BMW on sale at the moment.
The competition to BMW is bringing out a lot of low priced sedan cars and this means that BMW needs to compete with that. There 2-series coupe is appealing to some but because it has a tight back seat it does not appeal to everyone and styling is not everyone’s taste either. The 1-series provides a more appealing car although the price is high at $33,700. It should help BMW’s fuel efficiency rating in the US as well.
The platform will be based on the UKL compact front drive architecture which is the same as in the 2-series Active Tourer and the Mini Coper. The fornt suspension is a strut design like in the 3-series and the back has a multilink design. The platform has been found the be quiet and stiff with good handling. It is expected that these will be even more improved on and therefore it will be a great car to drive.
This prototype looks like it is very well designed with regards to proportions. To keep a front drive sedan sleek and balanced is a tricky thing but it looks good. The A-line pillar has a base just aft of the front wheel opening which keep a good profile there and a good visual length for the bonnet. The front and rear overhangs are not too big and the roof does not have the bubble look that some sedans have.
The powertrain is interesting as it is unlikely that the inline six will fit in to the engine bay of this car and therefore it is expected that it will not be bigger than a four litre. It is expected to be from the new family of turbocharged engines that BMW has just finished. It may also be fitted with the new turbocharged three cylinder engine which is in the base mini Cooper at the moment. This would improve the fuel economy. It is expected that the output will be similar to that of the 2-series Active Tourer which manages 228 horsepower and 258 lb/ft torque. It is also expected that there may be an M version quite quickly after which will compete with the Audi S3 and the Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG.
It is thought that there will be a eight speed automatic transmission as well as a six speed manual. There may be an optional all-wheel drive as Audi and Mercedes Benz have this option for their compact sedans.
The main competition for the car will come from the Volkswagen CC, Lexus IS250, Mercedes-Benz CLA class, Audi A3 and Acura TLX. It is expected that as the pictured car looks almost ready it will appear as early as next year but maybe a year longer before it reaches the US. Price wise it is expected that it will start at $30k but the interesting thing will be whether the world is ready for a front drive BMW.