BMW Study: 1 Series Owners Think it\’s FWD

FWD rabbit

File this under the data that supports a corporate decision category. BMW has announced that their own study has shown 80% of European 1 Series owners think their car is front wheel drive. That ‘s four out of five people who think that the key attribute of the BMW brand magically doesn ‘t apply to their car.

Of course it ‘s a perfectly timed study considering the uproar we ‘ve seen over BMW ‘s announcement that they will be building a FWD BMW based off of the next MINI platform. It also means that the ad above (released to support the 1 series hatch in 2006) clearly didn ‘t get its point across.

via Autocar.

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  • How is that possible? 80% – really?! It doesn’t handle like a FWD car. Further, punch it coming out of a sharp curve or turn and the rear end reacts completely as you’d expect a RWD car to react. Interesting and surprising.

  • PocoToro

    It just proves that most people don’t know their own car, or care, as long as it gets them were they want to go.

  • RJ

    It may be typical of the demographic slice that is buying the 1er in Europe. Don’t forget that the European gets a number of versions we don’t see, including the 3 and 5 door variants. It’s probably the people buying their first entry-level Propeller car don’t know or don’t care to ask if the 1er is being pushed along or pulled.

    I wonder if the survey results would read any differently here in the U.S.

  • lava

    This may be true, but its hardly a good reason for BMW to make the 0 series FWD. Granted a RWD/AWD platform for a B class size BMW would sacrifice some interior space compared to its competition, but this would be no different than compromises made for the RWD platform in the 1 series compared to other FWD cars in its size class. So they are already successfully playing against this issue in the 1 series. I can’t see why they would not put a RWD small car against the other FWD offerings again.

    Also, a reminder, this site has covered news of a Z2, small size sports car before – which no doubt would be a RWD configuration. Its not like they would have to create a new drivetrain for a small RWD sedan. Plus they have the AWD drivetrain from the Mini R60 to pull from, and should be able to draw a RWD and AWD offering from the shelf there.

    Guess I’m just not ready to give up on the idea of a new 2002 like small RWD sedan..

  • Evan

    That’s too much! I know most people don’t really understand the difference between drive wheels and the like, but the whole point of BMW is rear wheel drive.

    As long as BMW makes it FWD car handle well, like a MINI maybe…., then no one will notice… or not a lot of people.

    I’m still in the thought that BMWs are RWD and MINIs are FWD. And I’m also alright with either one being AWD. We probably won’t see the FWD BMW in the USA anyways. They’d have to build it here to make it worth it, most likely.

  • Chadwick

    I too don’t understand how it is possible so many people think their 1 is a FWD! And compared to RJ I think the opposite, that most who buy a bimmer buy it knowing it is a performance sports car, unless the husband or boy friend buys the car for their girl and she has no idea of RWD or FWD but that does not account for 80%! Although most drivers I have seen of one series are women.

    I liked that poster with the horse and huge front legs, I think it said “thats why we don’t have front wheel drive.” I thought it was a great ad because it personified the power and FWD into the animal we based our power…horse power on. Very clever.

    and Poco…I agree and personally I need to know everything about my car and cant simply drive it, I like to learn about it, experiment with it.

    In the end after driving many FWD car, I can hardly wait to get my hands on my new 335is.

    P.s. Gabe and Michael keep up the great work on the podcast.

  • P.s. Gabe and Michael keep up the great work on the podcast.

    Thanks! We’re actually taking a break from it this week due to both of us traveling. But we’ll be back next week!

  • TMQ

    You guys/gals need to look at reality. Many BMWs are NOT performance sports cars – look at the big X series, the so called GTs, and of course the sedans and hatchbacks that run on small 4 cylinders / diesels in EU.

    If you want true sports cars, go get a Porsche.

    VW GTI drives as well as the 1 series hatchback, and is more practical. MINI handles like go cart. FWD works just fine for small vehicles. It’s those big heavy sedans that absolutely need RWD.

  • JonPD

    I do have to wonder if this study just shows that the bulk of the BMW owners are actually less enthusiast than they are seeking the status symbol of driving a BMW. I am not sure if this is a recent trend, BMW has always had a great enthusiast base but this reeks of people that know so little about their cars, thus more of a status appliance.

    Maybe this also links into moving towards the “Joy” advertisement. This add campaign to me seem aimed at a very different user group than the typical enthusiast.

    The thought of a BMW as an appliance makes me sad.

  • dr

    Meanwhile, the execs at toyota have taken this survey to mean that there is great untapped potential in this market and are looking to sell more appliances to people who have no idea how this magical auto thing works on firewater.

  • Dave Z

    When I had my 318ti, many, many, many auto-ignoramuses, would ask if it was front wheel drive. I believe that these people thought that anything that has a hatchback must be FWD.

  • I think that some people think a “budget” car equates to FWD. RJ above pointed out the myriad of model variants in Europe where there are more “budget” minded models. In the US, I don’t consider $40,000 budget level.

  • Dewey

    This is quite surprising. How is it possible that 80% of 1 series owners don’t even know this basic fact about their own car? It wouldn’t have surprised me to find out that 80% of the general public thinks that, since as a 1 owner, I get many people that don’t believe me that it’s a rear wheel drive car. A sad statement that 80% of these amazing cars are wasted on people who must have just bought them for the badge. 🙁

  • GJR

    This is about the failure of BMW’s marketing team to highlight their key differentiating factor and give people a reason to spend the extra money on their cars vs. FWD competitors. So by releasing this study, they’re basically saying, “people don’t get it, so we’re going to dumb down the product.”

  • Babak

    GJR, I don’t think BMW’s marketing team is really trying to make sure everyone knows it’s a RWD car. The average public does not care if it’s FWD or RWD. (AWD is another story, as everyone seems to believe AWD is a must in the winter). Generally many people do care about the handling of the car, but I don’t think more than the 20% care if it’s FWD or RWD (as the survey indicates..)

  • Dede

    I’d file this under bullsh!t.

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  • Andrew

    I bought a 128i because it was the only car in that “hot hatch” category to be RWD (even though it is technically a coupe, not a hatch here in the states…).

    As much of you have said — BMW’s target market is no longer filled with enthusiasts as it once was. Case in point, my owner’s manual. For an oil change, the manual instructs me to trust my car only to BMW dealerships to take care of oil changes. That’s it. No illustration of how to access the drain plug, no drain plug torque specs, no oil filling capacities! That is very, very sad.

    But BMW is not making every car for an enthusiast. I guess to get them to care about that, I’ll have to get into an M car, but with the X5 and X6 M cars, I suspect there’s people out there who demand high performance and troubleshoot auto issues with money, money, and more money…

  • chas58

    It doesn’t surprise me.

    If you drive with DSC in the default mode (and most people do), it obliterates any positives or negatives of RWD. With the default DSC, it doesn’t make much difference if you have FWD, RWD, or AWD (most of the time). That system is so quick to react (to the point of being intrusive) that it practically obliterates any drive train configuration personality.