2012 BMW 1-Series Hatchback (three-door)Enlarge Photo
According to Auto Express, BMW wants its next 1-Series to better target rivals like the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class, and that moving to a front-wheel-drive platform will allow designers to add more room in the car—a lack of interior space due to the rear drive layout is one of the current car’s biggest criticisms.
There will also be significant weight savings brought about by the use of lighter materials, helping to aid both performance and economy. All-wheel drive will be available and likely made standard on more potent versions, which has proven popular for the rival A3 and A-Class. Sadly, we’re unlikely to see one of BMW’s signature straight-six engines fitted to the car, meaning the range-topper, likely an M Performance model, will come with four-cylinder power.
The current 1-Series hatchback's three- and five-door bodystyles will carry over and are expected to be joined by a new sedan option for the first time. BMW, unlike its rivals, has decided, for the time being, to stay out of the compact luxury sedan market, instead offering a lower-priced, de-contented version of the 3-Series. The new 1-Series sedan would finally fill that gap.
A launch in the U.S. for the next-generation 1-Series hatchback is yet to be confirmed, but the move is likely given the popularity of rivals. BMW has already confirmed the 2-Series Active Tourer for local sale, so it appears the company is comfortable with offering front-wheel-drive models here.
Note, while the launch of the next-generation 1-Series hatchback is still some time away, BMW plans to introduce an updated version of the current, second-generation model. Prototypes have been spotted and a debut is expected later this year. This model, unfortunately, is not due in local showrooms.