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Front-wheel drive dominates today’s automotive landscape, powering everything from subcompact hatchbacks to full-size SUVs. However, it wasn’t always this way. Back in the day rear-wheel drive was king, but over the last 30-odd years carmakers have made a dramatic shift from back to front. Why the flip-flop? No, they weren’t impersonating John Kerry; in reality, they didn’t have a choice.
The thought of a front-drive BMW was inconceivable less than 5 years ago, but the Bavarian luxury car maker appears to be planning an onslaught of front-drive models for launch by 2016, including a couple crossovers, a sports car and a new compact.
The first front-driver will be a 1 Series GT, another pointless crossover, but one that BMW evidently feels earns a spot in its lineup. The silver lining is that it will share a platform with the wonderful MINI Clubman, giving it excellent dynamics even if its technically a “downmarket” car. More intriguing is the BMW Z1, a compact roadster that would mimic the Lotus Elan of the early 1990′s by sending power to the front via a turbocharged 4-cylinder.
A compact, as well as the next generation 1-Series will likely follow suit, since 1-Series drivers apparently don’t know or care about which wheels are being driven. Naturally, a whole new range of MINIs will follow, including an all-new variant said to be the size of the original Mini Cooper.
[Source: Inside Line]
Mercedes-Benz will launch a new front-drive model for the United States market, aimed at capturing sales from a younger demographic, as the company seeks to stay competitive with rivals BMW and Audi.
A coupe and SUV have been confirmed for an expected 2013 launch, while a third variant is under considering. Mercedes is evaluating both a convertible and a shooting brake – a body style similar to the recently unveiled Ferrari FF – as possible candidates. The coupe model has been described as a close styling relative to the Mercedes-Benz CLS, while the SUV will do battle with the BMW X1 and upcoming Audi Q3.
The A-Class and B-Class compact hatchbacks (seen above) will also be built on the same architecture, but so far there are no plans to sell either in the United States, though Canada will almost certainly continue to get the B-Class, which is currently sold in that market.
[Source: Automotive News]
Today’s shocking bit of news comes from a Motor Trend article on the future of Cadillac. While discussing future plans for the big rear-drive Zeta platform, MT claimed that the next generation Holden Commodore would switch to the Epsilon II platform that currently underpins cars like the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick Lacrosse.
Performance versions of the Commodore, along with the premium-positioned Holden Statesman would retain their RWD layout, but mainstream Commodores would move to front-wheel drive, a move that would likely shock buyers of the full-size Aussie muscle barge.
Rumors have been flying for some time that the Ford Falcon is going to front-drive, so the decision might make business sense, but will surely disappoint legions of hoons who rely on the Commodore for burnouts and other thrills.
[Source: Motor Trend]