BMW has begun real-world testing of its new UKL1 front-wheel drive platform. The all-new architecture will underpin the third-generation BMW Mini family (with F56, the standard three-door hatchback, expected to be shown late next year) as well as providing the basis for a range of small front-wheel-drive BMW models.
This prototype is using the new platform and running gear, but wearing a stretched Mini body. Inside, BMW engineers have rigged up a BMW dashboard to work with the new electrical architecture.
It’s widely expected that there could eventually be up to 20 individual BMW and Mini-badged models, including small roadsters.
The platform will use MacPherson struts up front and BMW’s signature Z-axle at the rear. Four-wheel drive will also be offered, opening the way for a small BMW SUV slightly larger than today’s Mini Countryman.
BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer announced the plans for a range of front-drive cars at the firm’s annual results press conference in March 2010. He said the new platform would allow BMW to “achieve its profitability aims in the small-car sector”.