Next 1-series range to include FWD models; radical three-cylinder engines; 220bhp turbo model

Two roomy and highly practical front-wheel-drive BMWs are set to broaden the reach and appeal of the forthcoming second-generation 1-series.

The new front-drive models will be aimed squarely at the Audi A3. They will also provide added environmental credentials to BMW’s entry-level line-up through the introduction of a ground-breaking new three-cylinder engine.

See Autocar's exclusive rendering of the front-drive BMW 1-series

Based on a new front-wheel drive platform and aluminium-intensive chassis, the new entry-level BMW models will be a traditional five-door hatchback and a sporting estate. They are scheduled to begin arriving in UK showrooms in September 2013.

BMW’s first modern-day front-wheel-drive models are known internally under the codename UKL (an acronym for the German words Unter Klasse). They are totally separate from the company’s high-profile MegaCity Vehicle project and form part of a new six-strong 1-series line-up.

Included are a three-door hatchback, a five-door hatchback, a coupé and a cabriolet, all with rear-wheel drive, plus the five-door hatchback and estate versions running on the new front-drive architecture.

Read the full story of BMW's next 3-series

In its design and packaging, the UKL is a vastly different proposition from the second-generation rear-drive 1-series that will make its world debut at the Geneva motor show in March. The primary difference between the two is that the front-drive car has its engine mounted transversely under a comparatively short bonnet rather than longitudinally under a typically long bonnet.

With drive being sent to the front wheels rather than channelled via a propshaft to the rear wheels, the layout has given BMW’s designers the freedom to dispense with the transmission tunnel running back through the interior. This should increase the amount of available space, especially in the rear.

The new layout has also allowed BMW to rethink the car’s proportions, with the front bulkhead and A-pillars being brought further forward. This will increase the volume of the cabin to a level comparable with Europe’s best-seller, the Volkswagen Golf, and the Audi A3.

Full story: BMW 1-series owners 'think their car is FWD'

The UKL will also gain a more upright windscreen and larger door apertures. Insiders talk of the five-door hatchback adopting a silhouette similar to that of the 5-series GT, albeit on a smaller scale.

As well as the adoption of front-wheel drive and the packaging improvements it brings, the new entry-level model will offer buyers the choice of frugal turbocharged three-cylinder engines along with a new generation of turbocharged four-cylinder units — all part of BMW’s EfficientDynamics programme.

The new three-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, known under the codenames N37 and N38, are set to be 1.5 litres in size. They have been designed in a modular nature and will share components with the BMW’s traditional 3.0-litre, six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines.

Read more on BMW's new three-cylinder engines

Ranged above the compact three-cylinder engines will be new 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol and diesel units. The new engines also reflect BMW’s 500cc-per-cylinder engineering philosophy. Both will run the latest in turbo and piezo-valve-equipped injection technology.

As with the smaller motors, the four-cylinder units are planned to run in combination with EfficientDynamics tech that will include stop-start, brake energy recuperation and a new heat recovery system that uses waste heat from the exhaust to generate electricity to power the car’s ancillaries.

Unlike its rear-wheel-drive 1-series sibling, the UKL is not scheduled to run BMW’s six-cylinder motors, which are designed exclusively for a longitudinal layout. But that’s not to say that it won’t be without a performance variant. Munich insiders have revealed to Autocar plans for a resurrection of the ‘ti’ name on a Golf GTI-challenging performance model running a 220bhp version of BMW’s new turbocharged 2.0-litre engine.

This new model will be used to support a successor to BMW’s upcoming 1-series M Coupé, which is tentatively due to appear in 2013.

Greg Kable

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Comments
28

14 December 2010

It will be interesting to see how it drives given that BMW have always placed so much emphasis on rear wheel drive. I am sure that BMW will make sure that it steers and handles at the top of it's class. And I think it is the best looking BMW I have seen in a long time.

14 December 2010

Two 1-series??? FWD... SACRILEGE!!!!!!!!! and it looks like a Citroen!

14 December 2010

2nd gen RWD 1 series at Geneva in March? Hmm, another reason not to buy the new 1-series M coupe.

I have no problem with a small FWD BMW. Maybe it'll be like an Alfasud without the rust i.e. wonderful. I know FWD corrupts steering feel but that's already pretty much gone out the window. You might as well drive most modern cars with oven mitts on. There's a whole generation of drivers growing up that have never experienced decent steering feel. Sigh...

14 December 2010

[quote CarDesign]Two 1-series??? FWD... SACRILEGE!!!!!!!!! and it looks like a Citroen![/quote]

I was actually thinking it had the ford family look, C-max / Fiesta?

Either way it actually looks quite boring comapred to the current 1 series

14 December 2010

I'm really a bit confused by this - the render does it no favours however it may or may not look anything like that.

I'm more confused by the fact that it actually makes sense, unlike the x1(which i seen for the first time on the road a few weeks ago, rotten), X6 and 5 series GT thing which are all utterly stupid looking machines which nobody should have any reason to buy (that I can see).

I don't see how BMW can't make it work space-wise with rwd and hence a transmission tunnel though, surely the 1 series isn't much if any smaller than an e36 - the coupe's of which had plenty of rear room

14 December 2010

[quote rodenal]

I'm really a bit confused by this - the render does it no favours however it may or may not look anything like that.

I'm more confused by the fact that it actually makes sense, unlike the x1(which i seen for the first time on the road a few weeks ago, rotten), X6 and 5 series GT thing which are all utterly stupid looking machines which nobody should have any reason to buy (that I can see).

I don't see how BMW can't make it work space-wise with rwd and hence a transmission tunnel though, surely the 1 series isn't much if any smaller than an e36 - the coupe's of which had plenty of rear room

[/quote] Sadly it is much smaller interior than the E36 due crumple zones and crash protection that does take away some space. The current 1er 3/5dr boot and interior is not that much bigger than the current Ford Fiesta.

14 December 2010

Bear in mind this is "Autocar's rendering", and the magazine's interpretation of what the car might look like.

It looks good, time will tell if it's accurate. But it must surely be more appealing than the current ill-proportioned 1-Series. .

14 December 2010

Is it me or is bmw going the wroung way about this. They stand for rear wheel drive cars not front wheel drive. It also goes aginest the tag line. So i think that this is just stupid and also after just reading the other artcial on mini and what senoire members of bmw board have been saying about mini expasion plan in the next few years. I think that only front wheel drive cars made by bmw should be mini and mini alone.

14 December 2010

[quote 275not599]There's a whole generation of drivers growing up that have never experienced decent steering feel. Sigh...[/quote]

A youngish friend drove my TVR a few years ago, and complained that it required a lot of effort to drive it in a straight line, and that there was definitely something wrong with the steering as the wheel kept moving about in his hands all the time...I just smiled sweetly and vowed never to let him near it again...I tried to say steering feel etc etc..but it was something not right with the car and he proceeded to tell everyone I had a dodgy car. He may have been right on that, it being a TVR, but it was one of the best handling/steering/driving cars I have ever owned!

To live is to drive

14 December 2010

I also have no problem with a FWD BMW. I just don't understand why there will also be a RWD version. Did BMW get too far down the line with the new 1-series before they decided FWD is a good option? Mind you, if the boss of BMW is right and 80% of customers dont know which wheels are driven, then it wont matter. Just seems like a massive overlap in products.

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