This is BMW’s all-new front-drive hatchback and its sister car, the Mk3 Mini. Both of BMW’s new baby cars are entering their final 12 months of testing and both cars should be revealed towards the end of 2012.
Expected to wear the 1-series badge, the entry-level BMW is based on an all-new front-drive platform and most versions will be powered by BMW’s new 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol and diesel engines. All-wheel drive will also be an option.
According to Klaus Draeger, BMW’s development boss, the new N37-series engine could be good for as much as 160bhp (the likely engine for the Mini Cooper and, at the other end of the scale, deliver a 95g/km Co2 rating in diesel guise. A TwinPower version could be good for 180bhp. More powerful JCW versions of the Mini could get a four-cylinder engine.
The platform is scaleable enough to cover the span from a 3.8m-long Mini 3 to this 4.3m long 1-series. The new hatch is expected to be slightly smaller than the next VW Golf, but have similar interior room, thanks to the particular emphasis on packaging efficiency for future Mini models.
BMW will eventually build a family of small, front-drive, models replacing today’s 1-series line-up. However, its is possible that the rear-drive 1-series Coupe and Cabrio will live on under the 2-series badge.
With global Mini sales heading for 300,000 per year, the new entry-level BMWs could add another 300,000 in the medium term making this a potentially highly profitable new market for BMW which can rely on premium pricing for both marques.