Front Wheel Drive 1 Sedan Approved – Does it Spell Doom for Enthusiasts?

According to Automotive News BMW’s board has formally approved a 1 Series sedan based on the front wheel drive UKL platform. For those who haven’t been following this slice of the BMW news world, this is big news. There were plenty of factions within BMW that had argued the 1 Series sedan should be based on the current 1 Series rear drive platform and thus keep with the classic formula of what has made BMW so unique in the automotive world. However BMW has gone in a different direction likely due to costs and efficiency needs.

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For enthusiasts this is a tough pill to swallow. The very idea of a small, lightweight BMW sedan brings back font memories of the E30 and E36 BMWs. Yet bring rear wheel drive is at the very core of those products. This new 1 Series sedan will not be like those cars. It may be very good and perhaps even best in class amongst small front wheel drive sedans. But it will never have the front wheel drive balance and feel of the classic BMW sedans.

What about the rumored 2 Series Grande Coupe? For BMW enthusiasts that’s the last likely the last hope for a small rear wheel drive sedan.

This choice clearly draws the line in the sand when it comes to the future of RWD BMWs. The classic models will remain rear wheel drive with optional all wheel drive. Anything below a 3 Series (or X3) will be UKL based. Crucially that means the next generation 2 Series Coupe (not the one days away from its internet debut) expected late this decade will also be front wheel drive. Sacrilegious? Perhaps.

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  • CJ

    This is so disappointing from BMW. I understand the point of a business is to make money, but they are alienating more of their core enthusiast base every year.

    We can only hope that they continue to cater to us without having to purchase an M car. Some people want to enjoy driving a balanced RWD performance car without having to get an M car.

    If BMW no longer cares or wants to sell to this group then someone else will. It will be a sad day when that someone is not BMW.

    • BimmerFile_Michael

      I agree. The issue at hand is that something like 85% of drivers of the E81 thought it was front wheel drive and the biggest complaint was lack of rear seat comfort- small RWD offerings will usually have this. With the F20 most of the rear seat issues have been addressed (making the car larger helps) but the A class and B class in the EU still outsell it on value and interior space. It’s a battle BMW can’t win unless they go FWD- and the clientele already seem to not care about it being FWD….

      This car will be marketed differently and not target those that want a 2 series, a rear wheel drive sporty coupe. This will be a fun and engaging mover for the masses- a scaled up MINI really. BMW will remain predominately RWD- MB hasn’t gone away from it and BMW is not either.

  • Babak

    What would this mean for the future of cars like the second-gen M135i or M2? It wouldn’t be possible to economically produce the series model as FWD and the M Performance or M models as RWD, would it? Maybe those cars in M Performance or M would be xDrive only?