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BMW rethinks new 2011 1-series range

By Georg Kacher

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13 March 2009 09:00

When selling cars is your business, good timing is essential - along with an evenly staggered launch schedule. BMW is having problems in both departments: not enough fresh product in 2008 and 2009, but a glut thereafter. The new 5-series is due in 2010, the new 1-series follows in 2011, and the 3-series replacement is scheduled for 2012. This incidentally concludes the list of future BMWs styled under Chris Bangle.

Cost is another issue which currently troubles the Bavarian Motor Works. Unlike Audi, which has pegged the A3 on the Golf matrix, and the new A1 on the even cheaper Polo, BMW has again paired the next 1-series with the follow-up to the 3-series. Instead of pooling the third-generation Mini, the Project i family and the MkII 1-series, BMW has twinned its price-sensitive entry-level model with a rival of the A4 and the C-class.

Would it not have been wiser to devise a common components set for the 3 and 5-series?

Of course, but now it's too late for last-minute revisions. In the third quarter of 2011, the five-door 1-series will roll off the line, followed by a two-door version. And there might be more Ones to follow - BMW is currently evaluating no fewer than five two-door alternatives. They are:

• a replacement for the classic two-door hatchback - a variant with a virtually neutral profit margin

a three-door shooting brake - originally conceived to counter-attack the stillborn SLK-based SLT and the Audi TT Sportback

a three-door Sportwagon or Touring - which makes sense unless it cannibalizes the 3-series touring

a three- or five-door GT1/PAS - long and tall, but with controversial proportions and an exotic door concept

a three-door Sport Activity Coupé with a glass roof and big tailgate - think of it as a two-door X1

In view of the current budget constraints, it is very difficult to predict which variant is most likely to get the nod.

>> Click 'Next' below to find out which models BMW is planning instead of a new two-door 1-series variant