The first of these front-wheel-drive cars will be a compact MPV that is likely to be labeled a 1-Series Gran Turismo.
The vehicle has been testing in prototype form for over a year and was previewed in late 2012 by the Concept Active Tourer concept.
When asked by Automotive News (subscription required) during a recent interview why BMW needed such models in the U.S., the automaker’s local chief, Ludwig Willisch, said there were customers searching for good looking cars with a little versatility.
He went on to explain that front-wheel-drive cars were better for interior space than the automaker’s conventional front-engined, rear-wheel-drive cars.
The new 1-Series GT, which will spawn both five- and seven-seater models, will share its platform with the third-generation MINI range and come with three-cylinder engines, though it’s not clear if models sold in the U.S. will feature engines this small. A plug-in hybrid version is also expected to be launched.
Willisch didn’t mention when the 1-Series GT will be available, though it’s previously been reported that the cars are due around 2014.
With its new front-wheel-drive models and family of i-badged electric cars on the way, it’s clear BMW’s focus has changed from one on performance-oriented driving to something more skewed towards lifestyle and environmental interests.