Rumor: 2018 BMW 1 Series to go front-wheel drive

3-Series | June 11th, 2014 by 7
bmw-m135i-xdrive-07

In 2018, BMW will launch their third-generation 1 Series. Currently available in a hatchback form and not for sale in the U.S., the 1 Series …

In 2018, BMW will launch their third-generation 1 Series. Currently available in a hatchback form and not for sale in the U.S., the 1 Series has been a hit for BMW, with just the UK market selling nearly 42,000 cars in 2013.

A report from AutoExpress UK says that the new 2018 BMW 1 Series will move away from the rear-wheel drive architecture and make use of the newly launched front-wheel drive setup.

The BMW 1 Series has always been a hit in the UK, ranking as 2013’s ninth best-selling car, with 41,883 finding homes. But despite its success, the company is planning a complete rethink for the next generation of its sporty, rear-drive hatch, due in 2018. Our exclusive image shows how the car could look and there are more pics in this week’s Auto Express magazine.

Rumor: 2018 BMW 1 Series to go front wheel drive

Current generation BMW 1 Series 5-door

Following the lead of its Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class rivals (both also set for replacement in 2018), the 2018 1 Series will also make use of the xDrive four-wheel drive.

TEST DRIVE: BMW M135i xDrive

The 1 Series won’t be the first front-wheel-drive BMW, of course – the 2 Series Active Tourer is due to launch in the next few weeks, and will be followed in 2015 by the second-generation X1, another FWD vehicle. All three of these BMWs will be based on the new UKL1 architecture that already underpins the new three and five-door MINIs.

With the 2 Series Coupe and Convertible replacing the previous 1er Coupe and Cabriolet, there is room for the 1 Series hatch, and potentially a sedan, to grow in size.

Expect the 1 Series’ wheelbase to be stretched even further than the 2,567mm of the five-door MINI, creating more space in the back than at present and a bigger boot – it’s currently 360 liters or 1,200 liters with the rear seats folded.

Yet even though the new 1 Series will be slightly bigger, it’s expected to be lighter. Removing the propshaft (which is necessary for rear-wheel drive) alone is likely to save 30kg, while greater use of aluminum in the body will cut more kilos, improving handling and economy.

Using the UKL1 platform allows BMW to employ its new modular family of turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder and 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines.

Topping the range could be a four-wheel-drive M1 hatch, using a 2.0-litre petrol twin-turbo (possibly with an e-boost system to spin up the smaller turbo instantly) with around 360bhp – enough to eclipse Mercedes’ 355bhp A45 AMG.

  • SF Dede

    Big question is will BMWNA still screw up and not bring it to the US? I’m very interested in how the GTI with the performance pack drives. The e-controled mechanical diff could change the equation and discussion about a FWD BMW.

  • mckillio

    Theoretically, is a FWD based AWD setup lighter than a RWD based AWD setup?

    • realtrevor

      The 4WD will weight more. The removal of the propshaft yes will save 30Kg, but let’s not forget that the resulting car will be nose heavy, so handling and driving experience will be worse than the current RWD setup.

  • jason bourne

    Ugh.

    • SF Dede

      Don’t get me wrong. I’d prefer a RWD 1 series, but BMW NA failed, or was late, to understand the demand in the US for premium hot hatches. I live in San Francisco. I have a wife, child, and a dog. I don’t want a GTI, nor a CUV, and while I loved my mini when I had it, a mini won’t meet my needs. They’re just a bit too small. So I am forced to covet from afar the local 1series hatch with consular plates. But BMW NA has no balls because somebody screwed up the rollout of the 318ti here years ago…

  • Mark

    While the 1 series hatch was a success in the UK, it was not as successful else were. BMW has been struggling with how to do an entry level product for over ten years and they still have not managed to get the formula right. They had to serious compromise the rear set in the current hatch, the US was not disadvantaged by not getting it. The 1 series coupe was with a doubt the pick of the old line up.

    A FWD car has the advantage in that is gives a buyer a reason to pay more for a three series. Also sharing a platform with Mini means it can be priced lower creating a space between it and the 3 series with out completing directly with it.

    • SF Dede

      Hey I get it. That’s why I am interested in a FWD 1 series hatch. This is especially true if BMW can provide performance oriented drivers something like the Performance Pack that VW offers for the GTI. Electronically controlled mechanical diff. Sounds interesting.

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