Future BMW Front Wheel Drive Model Spied Again

BMW FWD Prototype

The spies have recently caught the prototype for BMW ‘s future front-wheel drive offering with their lens ‘. While the car is heavily clad in typical BMW fashion there are a few things that are noticeable- the wheel base is short by modern BMW terms, the front and rear overhangs are small and the windshield is raked back for efficiency purposes. With future MINI offerings coming from the same underpinning UKL platform we can see the similarities.

While some may question BMW ‘s motive in bringing a front wheel-drive offering to market it really is two fold: 1) Most consumers think the 1 Series is front wheel drive already and that hasn ‘t hurt sales, 2) The current 1 Series is uncomfortable, smaller and with less cargo capacity than competitors in the segment so it gets hurt in reviews which does in turn hurt sales.

On the latter; having a 120d BMW Edition 5 door hatch in the parkplatz currently I can fully attest on how miserable the rear seat ride quality is. With the drive axel, fuel tank and suspension all crammed in a small space it leaves little room for something like a decently padded rear seat or a boot to fit anything bigger than a few bags of groceries in. The competition on the other hand (namely the MB A-Class, Audi A3 and VW Golf) are much more plush and roomy. The A-Class in particular has tons of room in the cabin and trunk- dare I say almost C-Class levels. We ‘ll have a more in depth review in the near future of the 120d.

While the decision to go FWD may not be popular amongst BMW diehards it is something that they do need to do if they do not want to be ousted out of an important German (European) segment even though it means little in the US.The MINI has been a huge success compared to the competition in terms of driving prowess even being front wheel drive so we foresee the BMW offering to not be all that different.

Image: World Car Fans

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  • Victor Aros

    Ok, I can understand the finantial motivation behind this move. I just have to check what Porsche did a few years back when releasing the hard core Porsche owners much maligned Cayenne. But the key difference is that Porsche was at times of financial struggle, a situation that BMW currently doesn’t fit in. When reading a review (and all of us have read many), they always state the superior handling and performance (sportiness, if you will) of the 1 Series over all its rivals. So, a buyer in search of a new hatchback has all the information he or she needs in order to make a rigth choice: am I willing to give up a bit in terms of comfort or load capacity in exchange of sportiness? Then my car should be the 1 Series. If not, choose a Focus, Megane or Astra instead. So, the key question is: what kind of customers is BMW trying to attract? If BMW just wants to sell volumes, this move is right since all the badge-buyers will be here, if they want to be true to the keen driver customer, this move is totally wrong.

    Greetings.

    Cybobrut.

    • Anonymous

      VIctor, You make great points the one key thing to remember here is that this model will slate in under the current 1 series in the market place so consumers will still have the ability to choose a rwd car that drives better if they so choose. Many would say that in some instances the MINI is more enthusiast directed than the 1 Series even though it is FWD. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out but one thing is for certain- the US will not see this car unless they are in dire need to meet some future EPA regulation.

      • Victor Aros

        And there is even one more thing. The 1 Series meant that, at last, customers could buy a new RWD car (as opposed as a second hand, I mean) wich was practical enough, fun and affordable (think in Europe, where taxes make cars significantlly more expensive than there in the US) for a normal family.

        Greetings.

        Cybobrut.

        • Adam

          I’m a very traditional guy and to be honest BMW bringing a sub 1er model with this drive set up doesnt sting as much as I thought it would.  Besides BMW produces a FWD car: the Mini range, and so far as I can tell (from driving most of the models) and from reviews, its drive set up doesnt dissapoint. 

          Maybe a small car will help with future emissions regs and maybe the extra cash will support the really good stuff (///M’s).  So I wouldnt worry if I were you if anything BMW are the guys to teach the world how to make a balanced car irrgardless of which wheels are driven.

      • rwa

        I understand that this and other cars have traditionally never been a part of BMW’s US plans, but it might be interesting for you do to do an article looking at BMW’s options for meeting the 2016 CAFE regulations.  This is a bit old, but it’s an indication of how far they have to go:

        http://www.caranddriver.com/features/10q2/how_automakers_will_meet_2016_cafe_standards-feature

        It isn’t clear from that article if MINI is already included in those numbers.  If they aren’t there’s some benefit to be gained there.

        Will a few more diesel models and the roll out of the turbo 4 get them there (maybe impossible to say since CAFE uses different mileage estimate than the window sticker), or will they need to bring the smaller diesel engine over too?  Even more?

  • JonPD

    Doesn’t look like a BMW to my eye. I still chuckle that so many BMW owners know so little about cars in general and BMW specific to even know what wheels are powered. Goes to tell you that a vast number of BMW are sold because of the roundel and not about what makes BMW special. Sorry but I am less than impressed.