In the early part of 2010, BMW confirmed it was working on a new front-wheel-drive model designed to compete with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class and, to a lesser extent, mainstream models like the Ford B-Max and Volkswagen Golf Plus. Numerous prototypes of the car have been spotted since then, including a completed version which revealed the car would be badged a 2-Series and not a 1-Series as widely expected.

Previously, BMW’s U.S. chief Ludwig Willisch said there was a need for such vehicles (taller and more practical hatches with a little bit of sport) in the U.S. market. Now, Willisch has confirmed that the vehicle will reach local showrooms early next year.

“The Concept Active Tourer will come to the United States in early 2015," he told Edmunds. "It is very important to get younger customers into our camp--we still have the youngest customer base and we want to make sure it stays that way."

The Concept Active Tourer is the concept version of BMW’s upcoming front-wheel-drive model and was shown for the first time at the 2012 Paris Auto Show. The production version, which is likely to make its debut at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show in March, is virtually identical to the relatively stylish concept, which should help detract from the fact that it is just a front-driving compact MPV we’re talking about.

Conventional versions as well as a plug-in hybrid are expected to be launched. It’s not clear which versions the U.S. will get. Willisch did reveal, however, that one additional BMW model based on the front-wheel-drive platform known as UKL will be launched in the U.S. He is most likely referring to the next-generation X1, which will also be UKL-based.

The thought of front-wheel-drive BMWs has always seemed like sacrilege to car enthusiasts, but the realities of the modern auto industry have apparently conspired to make the car a necessity for even luxury automakers. Remember, as much as 80 percent of BMW 1-Series drivers aren’t even aware that their cars are actually rear-wheel-drive.


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