BMW is working on a new sedan based on its latest 1-Series range that will be aimed at customers in sedan-loving markets such as the U.S. and China. It will compete against the upcoming 2014 Audi A3 Sedan and 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA Class, though won’t be available until the 2015 calendar year at the earliest.

And, with its rivals destined to spawn their own performance variants, an S3 Sedan for Audi and a CLA45 AMG for Mercedes, BMW’s 1-Series sedan is likely to feature an M-tuned model. Instead of creating a dedicated M model, however, the new high-performance 1-Series sedan will likely join BMW’s growing list of M Performance models.

Autocar reports that this M-tuned 1-Series sedan will feature a turbocharged 2.0-liter four rated at 300 horsepower, instead of the turbocharged 3.0-liter six as fitted to the current M135i hot hatch sold overseas. The engine will be a variation of the N20 unit currently fitted to a host of BMWs.

This is so the new M-tuned 1-Series sedan doesn’t encroach on the performance of the next-generation M3, which will be downsizing to a turbocharged straight-six engine. It also means the BMW will better align with its rivals in terms of displacement, horsepower and efficiency.   

By comparison, the Audi S3 Sedan will be rated at 296 horsepower while the Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG will be rated at almost 350 horsepower.

The success of models like the 1-Series M Coupe and M135i is what prompted BMW into choosing to build a M Performance version of the upcoming 1-Series sedan. Unfortunately, development is still in the very early stages.

In fact, BMW is reportedly still deciding on whether to use the rear-wheel-drive platform from its current 1-Series hatch or go with the front-wheel-drive UKL platform underpinning the next-generation MINI and new 1-Series Gran Turismo. If the latter is picked, it means the M-tuned version will feature all-wheel drive.

While purists would love a rear-wheel-drive version, the UKL platform offers improved economies of scale as well as better packaging. Additionally, MINI is considering launching a sedan, also in 2015, which would utilize the UKL platform, so it’s possible the 1-Series sedan will be developed alongside it.

Stay tuned for an update.