We've just scooped the new BMW FAST. That's FAST for Family Activity Sports Tourer - one of the new breed of front-wheel drive BMWs.
Our new spy photos reveal a taller, upright monobox, proving that the BMW genre is stretching into new segments. Insiders have told CAR the BMW FAST is a 'sports van, a dynamic people mover with an XXL cargo deck.'
BMW has benchmarked a surprising number of rivals for the FAST: practical cars as diverse as the VW Touran, Audi Q3, Mercedes BLK and BMW's own X1.
What's this new BMW FAST name all about?
The BMW Family Activity Sports Tourer is a working title, and the new model is being aligned with a newly expanded 1-series family. It's not yet clear whether the FAST will be badged 1-series or not.
And it's not the only 1-series FWD family spin-off. A CAT (Compact Activity Tourer) and JOY (Compact Sports Commuter Concept) are in the works too.
BMW FAST: it doesn't look very fast!
This is all about BMW rewriting its own rigid rulebook. In order to seek more commonality between its model ranges, in future most Minis will have a BMW twin.
So the BMW FAST will be paired with a forthcoming Mini Van. The BMW JOY will be twinned with the smallest next Mini. And the BMW CAT will be co-developed with the next Mini Clubman.
It's all part of a plan that will ensure the UKL1 family will by 2020 match the volumes of the rear-wheel drive family of larger BMW models.
To put that in perspective, Munich types suggest there could be 1 million front-drive BMWs and Minis produced annually by the end of the decade. They're not dipping their toe in the FWD water, so much as diving in head first.
When will we see the BMW Family Activity Sports Tourer in showrooms?
The BMW FAST will go on sale in late 2013 and is based on the same front-wheel drive architecture as the new Minis built in Oxford.
Based on the UKL1 platform which underpins all future small BMWs and Minis, the BMW FAST will in fact offer front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. The 4wd system is being developed with Getrag.
Engines will include the latest BMW three-cylinder engines launching in the next 12 months. Codenamed N38 (petrol) and N37 (diesel), they have a 1.5 litre capacity and power outputs stretching from 75bhp (you'll see this in a new 113i) up to 155bhp (116i).