Heresy Strikes Munich – FWD Platform Rumoured for New BMW

Featured Posts, Rumors | March 9th, 2010 by 27
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Autocar reports that BMW will produce a FWD platform to battle the Audi A1 and Mercedes ForFour in the premium small car segment. In the …

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Autocar reports that BMW will produce a FWD platform to battle the Audi A1 and Mercedes ForFour in the premium small car segment. In the article, they claim Norbert Reithofer as a source of information on the topic while reporting from Geneva.

While this remains a “rumor” for now, we wholeheartedly rebuke this concept and are disgusted at the prospect of a fwd BMW. BMW has been producing rear wheel drive cars since their inception based on a commitment to superior driving dynamics, safety and the “joy” of driving. Speaking of joy, we recall a certain ad campaign that promotes the genuine pleasure of driving BMW cars; certainly no fwd car can emulate the driving experience of a perfectly balanced, neutral handling BMW car. The day BMW produces a fwd car, the “Joy” campaign will become hypocrisy.

As an independent automotive manufacturer, BMW is one of the few car companies in the world who can resist compromise to deliver the ultimate product, that is, the ultimate driving machine. Decades of sacrifice on the alter of performance would be rendered null and void by the compromise of producing a front wheel drive car. True, it will only be used on their smallest, entry car – but until now all BMWs have been cut from the same cloth, with quality and performance standards maintained across the entire line, from the 1 series to the 7. Features, technology and engine output may vary, but not one model strays from perfect 50:50 weight distribution and rear wheel or rear-biased all wheel drive.

As we see it, there is a simple solution to maintain BMW’s uncompromising production of the “Ultimate Driving Machine” while satisfying the corporate push to produce profitable small cars in the premium segment. Simply badge any small fwd car as a MINI, or even under a resurrected Isetta brand. MINI is already a driving force in the premium small car segment, and creating competition across the BMW and MINI line up on the same car platform is nonsensical and redundant.

We sincerely hope that (if the fwd rumor has any truth in it) BMW listens to the overwhelming rejection of a fwd BMW from the core buyers of their brand. Let BMW remain the “BMW” of cars.

The full article by Autocar can be read by clicking here.

27 responses to “Heresy Strikes Munich – FWD Platform Rumoured for New BMW”

  1. BMWM6 says:

    No this is horrible

    know this car is going to be a ricer and all the young teens will put pointless aero wings and pipe tips

  2. wazon8 says:

    I hope this will never happen.

    • wazon8 says:

      Let the MINI do the work in this niche and better focus on develoment of this brand, instead of making terrible BMW FWD.

  3. Bryce says:

    I love the look, but hate the thought of it being FWD. A 1-series hatchback that’s RWD would be amazing! I currently drive a VW Rabbit, and I sincerely miss driving a BMW. If they made this car RWD and put it into production, I would buy one as soon as it became available.

  4. Efozab says:

    don’t panic. life is too short and so is this idea. BMW will consider ALL options but surely this one would be one too many for even the new decision makers at BMW HQ.

  5. XC says:

    Bad bad bad. Shame on you Reithofer if this is true.

  6. n8n says:

    If it get back wheel drive I bet there will be a lot customers wanted to buy this little sweetie :> cause car looks marvellous :D like each other BMW (except 5er GT…)

  7. Daniel H says:

    Hellz no. who needs to compete against the A1 and those vehicles. BMW sets benchmarks, not compete against entry level FWD cars.

  8. Julien says:

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO BMW NOOOOO !!! what are they thinking>?????

  9. bob says:

    AUTOCAR is slow. As proof, the image used above for this article actually comes from the November 2009 issue of CAR:


    While some are, evidently, getting their panties in a bunch, it might be constructive to address the possibilities:

    1. Well, will there really be a FWD BMW? Could it not be that MINI might get the FWD variants, and the BMW variants the AWD? According to Roundel, allegedly, the set up is nearer to ideal for hybrid. Reality-based, commercially-viable VED anyone???

    2. BMW has confirmed that the Project i MCV will be part of a BMW ‘sub-brand’ a la M GmbH. Makes sense as a bridge, if you will, to the full BMW brand.

    3. The R-R Ghost share modules with the big BMWs; this seems similar at the other end.

    4. From this program will come a smaller, more agile, less expensive, and more efficient roadster – “Z2” – WooHoo!

    5. Given the impending regulations worldwide concerning emissions & fuel consumption, what did you truly think BMW was going to do? Seriously?!

    • Horatiu B. says:

      Apparently it’s a project in works, but it’s still far out. And yes, we just confirmed, Reithofer did say that at Geneva. We missed it also!

      Z2….it would be interesting to see if a FWD will be used, my guess is no.

  10. atr_hugo says:

    FWIW, before they purchased Dixi, BMW built a prototype FWD car in 1927(IIRC), they decided to shelve it. The enabling technology for FWD is the constant velocity joint and that wasn’t readily available until the mid ’30s (Citroen).

    There had been a couple of FWD manufacturers before that, Gregory ( in KC built about ten FWD (longitudinal mounts) right after WW I (early ’20s) and Miller ( built his beautiful FWD board track cars in the mid ’20s (using Gregory’s patented de Dion front suspension). Cord used the Miller scheme after it had been massaged by C. W. van Ranst (

    I remember reading somewhere that BMW is building a platform that has a ‘moveable’ firewall location. The only reason to do that is to be able to build front and rear wheel drive vehicles using the same chassis components.

    In the grand scheme of things what FWD is absolutely good at is packaging. You can get maximum ratio of usable interior space to exterior footprint with a transverse mounted FWD drivetrain. And that’s it. All the talk about it’s safer, etc is BS.

    So – if you want to drop weight and exterior size, use a three cylinder drivetrain w/ hybrid components and yet maximize interior room you go with FWD.

    The big question is can BMW make a FWD car drive like a BMW? The original Mini Cooper is a good example of a decent handling FWD car, the early ’90s Nissan Sentra SE-R is another.

    Can FWD be better than RWD? I think if you look, there are many RWD cars that handle like ‘pigs’ and FWD cars that are relatively nimble. BMW just has to build a FWD car that delivers the essence of BMWness. It won’t be easy, but then nothing is these days. ; -)

    Now if BMW gives up building in-line six cylinders for V6 eninges, I’ll be PO’d. : -)

    • atr_hugo says:

      Found the reference to the ’20s era FWD project. It shows up in, Schraeder’s, “BMW: A History”. There’s actually a photograph of the mule from 1922, a boxer (motorrad) engine hung on a Tatra central tube frame driving the front wheels through U-joints. No wonder they gave up on it! ; -)

    • Shawn says:


      I agree that for packaging reasons it has its advantages, but this is not the BMW way to go about it. BMW should be using a transversly mounted 3 or 4 cylinder engine located in the rear, driving the rear wheels. This is essentially what Mercedes has done with their “Smart” vehicles, and it works incredibly well as far as packaging. A large boot could be located at the front of the car. Neither dynamics nor space would be sacrificed. It would even be acceptable from a cost perspective, as rear engine/rwd does not require a long driveshaft through the vehicle or quite as much torsional rigidity in the frame (though I imagine BMW would still produce a very stiff chassis).

      As far as my favorite fwd cars, well, they’re on another planet from my favorite rwd cars – but I would say the current Honda Civic SI (with standard front LSD) and the current Mini Cooper S. Both a lot of fun to drive, the Civic has a phenomenal exhaust note.

      • atr_hugo says:

        Yeah – the Smart and Tata are rear engined/rear drive (oh, and the Porsche 911 too. ; -) and you’re right to point that out in that does split the drive and steering wheels appropriately. (I’ve driven rear steer forklifts – can’t imagine anyone wanting to do that with a car. ; -)

        What is odd is that after the Mini came on the scene, the rear -engined cars seem to lose favor. I may have to do some digging in the library to see if that was due to fashion or function.

        • Shawn says:

          Yes, can’t forget the 911 :)

          I would say that fork lifts still handle better than skid steers! ;)

          The mini is a tremendous car and it handles very well for a fwd layout. But the point is that the Mini would be dramatically improved if it featured rwd architecture. It’s great, but it could be better. Why start off with a compromise? I know that the purpose of these vehicles will hardly be speed, in fact, they probably won’t be capable of much speed anyway – but the case remains: fwd will be a detriment to the car’s handling at the limit. I find that the Mini handles really well until around 8/10ths pace, then it starts to show it’s flawed fwd layout.

          Again, no owner will ever drive the car to it’s limit, only car press ;) but I just can’t wrap my head around a fwd BMW product. Label it something else or do it right. Rear engine rwd is the best solution for this size car.

  11. viper says:

    super bullshit from bmw

  12. Chantan says:

    Do any of you actually think Bmw gives a sh*t what you think? Hello? How many of us are there compared to the masses who buy bmws for other reasons. It’s the masses with the $$$ that counts. So what if that means there will be FWD, if it can earn more profit for them and their shareholders, then’s that fine with me. You guys should wake up and live in the real world.

    • XC says:

      SO, according to YOU, BMW should stop making Z4s, M3s, M5s, M6s, X5Ms, X6Ms, 135is, motorcycles, etc, after all, who buys those cars? BMW MUST start building VWs… THE MASSES RULE.

      • bob says:

        Please don’t put words in his mouth. It’s not his problem that you overreacted above to the word “heresy” in the header. Nor did he suggest, even remotely, that BMW should abandon all RWD + AWD vehicles, incl. motorrad.

        IMO, it’s ironic that you listed X5Ms & X6Ms because, 10-12 yrs. ago, the same mentality said it was an abomination for BMW to produce SUVs. They were wrong.

        BMW AG is a niche creator/exploiter…then…now…and in the future. If they see an opportunity for a niche product in the small FWD segment I say, Good for them! Those incremental euro’s will help improve the overall corporate Return On Capital Employed (“ROCE”), and Weighted Average Cost of Capital (“WACC”), etc. Which, in turn, would be tot he benefit of ALL of BMW’s products.

        Auto manufacturing is an absolutely brutal industry. BMW AG is a for-profit enterprise. And, now, with the general public finally(!) getting a clue as to what Toyota’s really been up to, BMW stands alone as THE most well-manged car company int he world.

        Therefore, instead of blindly saying, “Shame on you, Dr. Reithofer!”, you’d be much better off asking yourself, “What does he know that I don’t?”

    • XC says:

      Chantal, sir, avoid profane language. Profanity is a mark of low breeding.

  13. Chantan says:

    Idiot, XC, who said anything about stopping Z4s and M3s? FWD and RWD can COEXIST. I know that’s a hard concept for you to wrap around, but since when have BMW said they will stop building RWD cars. I pity your intelligence, XC.

  14. Petkunterä says:

    I feel that many of you have not even driven proper FWD cars. Compare the MINI and 1er for example: it is definitely the MINI that is the better car to drive. There is probably no other car in the current BMW lineup that handles as well (with the possible exception of the M3, which I have not driven myself).

    Sure, it would be nice to have a small RWD BMW, but there are so many other parameters, which contribute to the end result.

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