BMW has expanded its "Ultimate Driving Machine" mantra to include front-wheel-drive vehicles around the globe, but a sedan? Blasphemy. Such a car exists in China—the 2017 BMW 1-Series—and it seems the German brand may have plans to introduce the car in the U.S. as well.
A new report from Automotive News has one source claiming BMW is mulling over a 1-Series introduction for the U.S. market. Pressure from Audi and Mercedes-Benz may ultimately sway BMW into offering the front-wheel drive sedan. Audi sells the A3 and Mercedes-Benz will soon sell the A-Class sedan in the U.S. beginning in 2018. The Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class has also been successful in tapping the entry-level luxury market since its introduction.
As the market for entry-level, front-wheel drive luxury sedans expands, the 1-Series would be BMW's logical answer. Additionally, BMW will move the European-market 1-Series hatchback from its current rear-wheel drive platform to the same front-wheel drive architecture that underpins the 1-Series sedan. The 1-Series hatchback has often been an appreciated oddity for its sporty rear-wheel drive layout and longitudinally-mounted inline-6. While enthusiasts love it, it's not the most practical solution for a small car.
The 1-Series sedan has been a China-exclusive model, while the 1-Series hatch has been sold in markets around the world—save for the U.S. Additionally, BMW offers a front-drive X1 crossover here; it's based on the same, Mini-derived architecture.
BMW has long denied a U.S. launch for the 1-Series, but should this source prove credible, it will mark the first time a BMW sedan would be offered with front-wheel drive here.