Today BMW is unleashing a dashing little concept that is a new take on the traditional small BMW sedan. Throughout the press release below we’ll read about aesthetics and packaging and how it relates to the needs of a new generation. What you won’t read is what’s below the surface. This is the highly anticipated (and thinly disguised) F52 UKL based 1 Series sedan. Yes BMW’s first front wheel drive based sedan. Sacrilegious you say? Perhaps. But for years BMW has been clear that the front wheel drive UKL platform would power not just MINIs but small BMW products. It’s obvious as to why. Using one platform for all small vehicles creates enormous economies of scale for the company. And using a front wheel drive based platform allows for much better packaging and more interior room. The notion is that these attributes align with a new generation of car buyers looking for good value, interior comfort and of course plenty of technology.
Look for the production version of the F52 to debut in early 2016 with a launch happening later in the year. In the meantime we’ll have much more on the concept and the F52 1 Series sedan in the weeks and months ahead. Whether that launch will include markets outside of China remains to be seen.
Official Release: The BMW Group has chosen Auto Guangzhou 2015, one of the largest international motor shows in China, to present a very special new development to the global public: the company’s vision of a four-door sedan for the compact segment. “The BMW Concept Compact Sedan reveals the potential we see in a compact sedan,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design. “It not only gives the driver and passengers generous amounts of space within a compact area but does so while providing the sporting ability you’d expect from BMW and an elegance otherwise only available in large BMW sedans. The quality and intrinsic value of the BMW Concept Compact Sedan are clear signals of our premium intentions for the car.”
The car for a new generation.
As great growth potential can be seen in the Chinese premium compact market, BMW has conducted in-depth observation and research for the segment’s development trends and target customers. The BMW Concept Compact Sedan represents the approach to life of a generation of youth in China. These potential customers are confident, dynamic and extremely quality-conscious and have a feel for aesthetics. “The characterful design of the BMW Concept Compact Sedan embodies the driving pleasure offered by a sporting car with minimised exterior dimensions. It is as distinctive as it is essential – and, as such, it injects new life into the compact segment. This four-door sedan stands for everything that sets BMW apart,” explains Karim Habib, Head of Design BMW Automobiles.
Fitting the BMW template from every angle – the exterior design.
The compact and agile exterior of the BMW Concept Compact Sedan creates a familiar sedan silhouette based around a striking three-box design. Hallmark BMW proportions imbue the car with a dynamic allure unrivalled in its segment. Its sweeping bonnet and long wheelbase stretch the car visually, while the slightly set-back greenhouse further underlines its sporting nature. The clever use of time-honoured BMW elements, such as a long, prominent swage line, dynamic Hofmeister kink and surfaces moulded with impressive depth, ensures the car cuts an athletic figure from the side and highlights its relationship with other BMW vehicles. The four doors are integrated harmoniously into its proportions and allow easy entry for the driver and all passengers. Discreet soft-touch handles below the swage line open the doors as soon as a finger touches their metal surface.
Powerful interplay of surfaces.
Precise edges and contours form dynamically chiselled surfaces, reflecting an assured interplay between light and shade that lends sculptural depth to the flanks of the car and conjures images of tensed muscles. The flared wheel arches rise out clearly from the body as it tapers in towards the road and further strengthen the impression of athletic intent. The exclusive exterior paint shade Liquid Metal Bronze adheres to the surfaces of the body like cast metal. The fine pigments in the paint shift between light and dark depending on the incidence of light, showcasing the car’s attention-grabbing design language to maximum effect. The window surrounds and the weather strip-style exterior mirror stalks in polished aluminium are a classy flourish, while the exclusive 20-inch light-alloy wheels in intricate double-spoke design form a visual highlight with their bi-colour design and set the seal on the side view.
Front and rear ends exude undiluted dynamic allure.
The designers have emphasised the width of the slim front end and ensured it picks up the sporting baton from the car’s flanks. Its signature kidney grille and eye-catching twin circular headlights instantly identify the BMW Concept Compact Sedan as a BMW. The familiar form of the kidneys and their size convey the car’s distinctive character: a seamless fusion of agility, sportiness and elegance. The hexagonal, dynamically “sawn-off” twin circular LED headlights on either side point inwards towards the kidney grille, creating a visual link between the kidneys and headlights that lends the car a purposeful look. The V-shaped central air intake is the starting point for a pervading design theme which splits the lower section of the front end into three sections and gives it a broader appearance. Surfaces merging into one another and stacked in different layers, and the interplay of those levels, lend extra depth and dynamism to the design.
Like the front end, the horizontally structured rear also makes a clear sporting statement. Lateral lines and a vibrant interplay of horizontal light and shadowed surfaces accentuate the width of the rear end and at the same time make the car look lower. The slim, elongated string of rear lights, with their prominent L shape, take this process a step further. An LED light element in the shape of an “L” inside the lights makes the characteristic light contours visible at night as well. The confidently sculpted rear apron reduces the gap between road and rear end, while a chrome insert that widens towards the outer edges of the rear apron adds a classy accent.
Sporty lightness and modern exclusivity – the interior.
Glance into the interior of the BMW Concept Compact Sedan and its BMW family ties are immediately evident. The cockpit radiates a clear driver focus: all the lines, forms and controls are geared towards the person behind the wheel and their needs. This is highlighted by the prominent lines that converge in the direction of travel either side of the steering wheel. The resultant “cone of vision” sets the tone for the driver’s area as a whole. The form of the horizontal, nozzle-shaped air vents and their internal structure continue the theme. The “cone of vision” tapers into a Head-Up Display with combiner screen, which projects all the relevant information into the driver’s direct field of view.
Elongated horizontal lines and surfaces creating a generous feeling of space provide a counterpoint to the cabin’s driver focus and sporty styling. For example, the instrument panel on the front passenger side extends into the doors in an elegant, horizontal movement, creating an inviting ambience for passengers. Exclusive Nappa leather, open-pored wood and brushed aluminium form an attractive triad of materials spreading across the whole of the instrument panel, whose leather-covered top surface with contrast stitching is a feature normally the preserve of luxury sedans. An unbroken insert in polished aluminium provides for a classy surround for the instrument panel, while orange-coloured contour lighting further accentuates its character-defining contours at night.
The doors’ design picks up the instrument panel’s horizontal lines and extends them into the flanks of the car in a dynamic sweep. The front door, for example, extends visually into the B-pillar and makes the interior feel bigger. Indeed, the cabin offers an unaccustomed level of space and openness for a car in this class. The sporty seats, which in the rear suggest two individual seats, further enhance this impression. Covered in naturally soft Nappa leather in warm Ivory and Grey Brown, as well as Muted Brown, they offer unbeatable comfort. Accents in Velocity Tulip – a snug shade of orange – underline the sporting geometry of the seats, which take their cue from racing buckets and accentuate the sporty character of the vehicle while at the same time meeting the comfort requirements of a premium vehicle. Beyond this, the large panoramic roof floods the interior with natural light and extends the space above the passengers’ heads to underline the generous feeling of roominess.
All the technical features of the BMW Concept Compact Sedan are integrated into its interior design with polish and refinement. Mechanical operating elements modelled to flawless ergonomic effect – such as the climate system controls, gearshift lever and iDrive system – extend from the super-smooth surfaces. All the other functions on the steering wheel, centre stack, centre console and door openers are operated using backlit touch-sensitive surfaces, whose high-gloss black surfaces provide a highly exclusive interior ambience when switched off. In addition, a “combiner” Head-Up Display and 8.8-inch screen in the central information display contain all the information required at any one time.
Generously-sized rear compartment.
The rear compartment of the BMW Concept Compact Sedan vividly reflects the importance attached to passenger comfort. Despite the car’s compact dimensions, the rear – which is designed to accommodate two people – welcomes its passengers with a bright and expansive feeling of space. Its exclusive materials, high-quality workmanship and warm Ivory and Muted Brown tones, backed up by accents in Velocity Tulip, create an inviting ambience. Visually, the rear bench suggests two individual seats and offers passengers ample space in which to spread out. At the same time, its form sees the sporting flavour of the front seats spilling over into the rear. The panoramic roof, which extends a long way back, and the ivory-coloured roof liner ensure the second row of seats is likewise bathed in a light and almost airy sensation of space. At night, the contour lighting extending into the doors accentuates the function islands of touch-control door openers, touch-sensitive window controls and loudspeakers. A separate climate control unit in the rear-facing surface of the centre console adds the finishing touches to the high-comfort rear accommodation.