When BMW announced the 2 Series Tourers, and the fact that they would be front-wheel drive based, enthusiasts of the Bavarian brand were upset. Very upset. BMW has hung its hat on rear-wheel drive-based vehicles since its inception. So the switch to the front-wheel drive-based BMW ever was obviously met with quite a bit of negativity.
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It’s understandable, to be honest, as BMW has always been a brand to follow tradition. So when that tradition changes, it can upset the apple cart. However, once fans give these new cars a try, they might change their minds.
The 2 Series Tourers aren’t the most dynamic of automobiles, and they aren’t really meant to be, so they won’t be the cars to sway enthusiasts. But the new X1 might. The new F48 BMW X1 is also based on BMW’s new front-wheel drive platform (and to fans who call it a MINI platform, I was sternly corrected at the X1 launch that this is a BMW-developed platform shared with MINI, not the other way around) and it could just sway the mind of doubtful enthusiasts. Obviously, this FWD-based platform won’t be used for performance minded vehicles, like M cars. But it will be used on cars that will be bought by families, cars that can sacrifice a bit of “fun” for practicality. The interesting part, though, is that the new X1 is downright fun to drive.
If you’re a BMW enthusiast, but now has a new family with small children, a car like the X1 might be perfect for you. And after driving it, especially driving it hard, you’d realize that it loses very little, in terms of handling and fun, to its FWD-based platform. But that same maligned platform allows the new X1 to be more practical, more spacious, more comfortable and more affordable while stilling very enjoyable to drive.
The same platform, which does underpin MINIs, could also be used in a possible 1 Series sedan or something equally as small. This would allow BMW to give enthusiasts a small, fun car for very low prices. Using this new platform could allow BMW to offer a true entry-level enthusiast’s car. But most enthusiasts wouldn’t want such a car due to its front-wheel drive nature. Will that stigma ever go away? Will BMW ever be able to produce a FWD-based performance car, or continue to make any FWD-based cars, without taking flak from enthusiasts? Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation… even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind — Leonardo Da Vinci. BMW must change in order to be successful, so it will be a shame if customers and fans don’t appreciate or accept the changed BMW makes to remain successful and competitive in an extremely competitive segment.