BMW is plotting a small, 1-series saloon to rival Mercedes’ CLA and Audi’s forthcomingA3 Sportlimousine – and the big news is that this £19,000 four-door will be front-wheel drive. In May 2010, BMW publicly announced it would use the 2013 Mini’s front-wheel drive platform for a string of BMWs, and its 2012 Active Tourer concept showed the proportions of a front-drive BMW. CAR has now learned that that BMW’s front-drive family will include a small saloon.
The new-generation Mini is critical to the plan. In 2015, Mini is planning to extend today’s bloated, eight-strong range with a four-door notchback, that’ll be vaguely reminiscent of British ‘classics’ like the Wolseley Hornet and the Vanden Plas Princess 1300.
By collaborating with its Mini brand and reskinning its platform, BMW can reduce the development, procurement and tooling costs for the ‘New Entry Sedan’ (NES), and get it to market in 2016. The 1-series saloon’s notchback proportions will hark back to the 2002 (from 1968) and the first-gen 3-series. The closest model BMW has today is the 1-series coupe (pictured), but this has a longer bonnet and rear-drive proportions – and, of course, only two doors.
Talk me through the engine line-up
BMW’s New Entry Sedan will run three- and four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. The 1.5-litre triple powers the 114i with 102bhp, while the 116i-badged car gets 136bhp. A 2.0-litre petrol underpins the 190bhp 118i and the 231bhp 120i. The diesel engines are a 1.5-litre triple, with 116bhp for the 116d and 150bhp in 118d guise, and a 190bhp, 2.0-litre fourpot for the 120d.
Mid-term, BMW is expected to add two M Performance models, the 272bhp M125i and the 231bhp M125d, both with extra-cost xDrive four-wheel drive.
What are the other front-drive baby Beemers?
NES would be the fifth model derived from the front-drive platform, dubbed UKL1. First up will be the Active Tourer hatchback (pictured in concept guise), a ‘Family Tourer’ minivan, the Sport Tourer fastback to take on Audi’s A3 Sportback, and the second-generation X1 crossover. With all these new cars, you won’t be surprised that BMW and Mini will eventually build approximately 1 million compact cars – significantly more than Mercedes but nowhere near as many as Audi’s A3 platform, which can count on its VW Golf sister car to massively inflate the numbers.