The upcoming lineup of front-drive “small premium” BMWs will will share the 1 Series badge with their RWD counterparts. According to a report by AutoCar, the new models, which will share the same underpinnings as the next-generation MINI Cooper, will also be hatchbacks and are likely to be offered in both 3-door and 5-door trim.
The new models, competing with the Mercedes A-Class and B-Class, as well as the Audi A1 and A2, will offer more interior space, improved fuel economy and sell for less than their RWD counterparts. According to AutoCar, BMW isn’t worried about offering both a front-drive and rear-drive 1 Series as it believes the different models will attract different buyers. In particular, BMW hopes the new front-drivers will help bring new customers into the BMW fold. Both front drive and rear-drive models are expected to have distinguishable design traits.
It does without saying that these small cars will use 4-cylinder engines (or possibly even turbo 3-cylinder engines, like in the upcoming MINI models) mounted transversely to increase interior room, shorten the hood length and allow for the maximum wheelbase.
Set to launch in 2013, the first of the front-drive BMW hatches will be a 5-door along the lines of the VW Golf, but designed to compete with the A2 and A-Class, while a more sporting 1 Series in a 3-door layout, will debut after to compete with the A1.
With BMW looking to offer the new 1 Series hatchbacks as front-drive models, it’s not year clear if the current rear-drive hatches available in Europe will continue on.