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
So what's this new model?
Instead of offering an additional bodystyle, BMW is actually contemplating to launch an aggressively priced low-spec 115i entry-level model - which brings back memories of the barren 315 and 1502.
Anything at the other end of the scale?
In addition to the hatchback(s), we are going to see three different 1-series notchbacks. The new coupé is due in early 2012, the Supersport (unveiled in our exclusive sketch, right) conceived by the M division has been predicted for late 2012, and the convertible is likely to appear just in time for the 2013 spring season. While BMW has confirmed that the Supersport gets round headlamps as an hommage to the legendary 2002 series, the other three-box models may feature radically different oblong LED headlamps.
The Supersport version will be positioned between the 135iS and the next M3. Since the M3 switches from the V8 to a straight six, the Supersport - which won´t be badged M1 - can only be powered by a high-revving twin-turbo four-cylinder. According to the Munich grapevine, the drivetrain wizards of the M division are preparing a direct-injection 2.0 or 2.2-litre unit which develops 300bhp and about 450Nm. A dual-clutch transmission can be taken for granted, and there is little doubt that reduced weight is also high up on the agenda.
What's the full engine line-up?
The engine line-up indicates that the next 1-series will likely move up the price and performance ladder:
116i, 1.3-litre turbo/136bhp
118i, 1.3-litre turbo/177bhp
120i, 2.0-litre turbo/218bhp
130i, 3.0-litre six/272bhp
135iS, 3.0-litre twin-turbo six/326bhp
118d, 2.0-litre/150 bhp
Also part of the package is phase two of Efficient Dynamics. New measures are said to include an integrated starter generator, a pre-heating circuit for the engine, differential and transmission oil, start-stop mated to automatic transmissions, on-demand water and oil pumps, a lithium-ion storage cell and a smaller starter battery.
>> Click 'Add your comment' below and let us know what you think of the new BMW 1-series. Is a 115i or Supersport a step too far for the BMW 1-series?