Just over a week ago, reports that BMW was considering a front-wheel drive joint platform for its small cars, to be shared with MINI, emerged on the Web. Today, BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer confirmed the reports, stating outright, "There will be front-wheel drive BMWs in the smaller vehicle classes in the future."
The front-wheel drive models will also likely have all-wheel drive variants, but purists will no doubt decry the move from the purity of a rear-drive standard. The new vehicles will inhabit the smaller ranges of BMW's lineup, meaning most likely the sub-1-Series car we previewed in February, leaving the 1-Series as the smallest rear-drive BMW.
Front-drive is almost certainly a given for the packaging and pricing constraints of the Project i Mega City Vehicle, as well, though the sub-1er isn't to be confused with the MCV.
It's not yet clear what BMW expects the move to a MINI-shared, front-drive platform to do to the brand's image, though so far it doesn't look like the smallest BMWs are planned for the U.S., so America's small-equals-cheap prejudgment may not enter into the decision matrix, as Europeans are much more accepting of the compact-premium segment.