At the recent Paris Auto Show, BMW introduced to the world their first front-wheel drive vehicle. First developed in a concept form, the BMW FWD will come to market in 2014. The premium FWD minivan-looking vehicle uses a plug-in hybrid platform with the eDrive architecture paired with a 3-cylinder 1.5 liter gasoline engine.
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Without a doubt the news of a FWD bimmer has shook up the BMW community and many have wondered if the company is selling out, or even if these cars will become popular.
BMW’s vice president of product and service planning, Dr Frank Neiderlander, told CarAdvice that the FWD platform will be adopted just like the first SUV, the X5.
“We had a similar decision in the ’90s with the X model [the X5], where suddenly we went to a more upright car concept, a more off-road-oriented car, a different seating position, different weight distribution, AWD,” says Dr Frank Neiderlander. “So we had a totally different concept to the previous [rear drive passenger car] layout but still at the end we managed to bring this soul of a BMW to this kind of concept. That is why we are so confident we can do the same for such a concept [as the front-wheel-drive BMW].”
The Aussie magazine says that production version of the Active Tourer will adopt a 2 Series badge, and the FWD family will include about 20 models, with MINI vehicles as well.
Furthermore, Dr Frank Neiderlande says that BMW wouldn’t be building the FWD vehicles if they don’t retain BMW’s core values.
“Historically, it was not so much a question of [having RWD for] luxury but the performance,” he said. “At a certain level you need to have the traction on the rear to get the performance down. That was a question of car size, and RWD was the concept for that.
“[The front-drive concept is] really coming from this relation between the space for the technology inside, the drivetrain, the suspension, the outside dimensions of the car.
“We are [developing] it for customers who want more interior space… a long wheelbase to have flexible usage on the interior, but still have all that in a very compact dimension.
“To combine that you have to see what would be the right layout to do that and we came to the decision of front-wheel-drive concept. What we try to look at same time, how do we manage that this is still a BMW, because without this you wouldn’t develop the car.”