According to Autocar, the new cars will be based on the next-generation Mini platform and will be positioned below the future 1-series range, which will continue production as rear-drive models.
A surprising detail is that the new front-drive BMWs will also carry the 1-series name, so that customers can choose between either front or rear-wheel drive.
But even if they will share names, the two families of models will sport different shapes and prices. The rear-drive car will carry a higher price tag and will be superior in quality to the cheaper front-drive 1-series. BMW is not concerned that its future front-wheel drive models will lure buyers from its MINI brand, whose third generation of the city car is due in 2014.
“Both brands possess a clear and individual image,” a BMW insider told Autocar, giving as an example the sales success Volkswagen and Audi have achieved with both the Golf and A3. “Our research shows BMW and Mini appeal to different buyers,” the source added.
The front-drive model will have the mission of attracting new customers to the brand. “We want a car that will appeal to non-BMW buyers with a focus on roominess and interior flexibility, yet like our existing entry-level model it will be fun to drive and cheap to run,” the BMW insider said.
The first of the new front-drive BMWs to appear in showrooms will be a tall five-door hatchback which will rival the upcoming Audi A2 and Mercedes A-class. A second model will be a sportier variant, conceived to compete with the recently launched Audi A1.