Currently reading: BMW 1 Series saloon denied European launch
BMW dismisses reports that its China-only model will be sold in more key markets
2 mins read
31 May 2017

BMW will not rush into launching its 1 Series saloon outside of China, despite the sales success of the rival Audi A3 saloon and recent confirmation from Mercedes-Benz that it will add a saloon model to its A-Class line-up in 2018.

A BMW source told Autocar that reports stating the firm had already drawn up plans to sell the four-door 1 Series in key global markets, including the UK, were wide of the mark. The source said the sole focus for the new saloon is the Chinese market, where the front-wheel-drive 1 Series saloon is produced in a joint venture with Brilliance.

Small cars with saloon body styles remain popular in China, in contrast to most European markets where hatchbacks are preferred.

“There are no immediate plans to sell the 1 Series saloon outside of China. The initial signs there are quite positive,” said the source.

BMW has confirmed that a feasibility study assessing the merit of selling the 1 Series saloon globally is underway. However, that is said to revolve around the next generation four-door due in 2021, rather than the model on sale in China.

One of the concerns for BMW in mapping out a global sales strategy for the 1 Series saloon is the impact it could have on sales of its linchpin model, the 3 Series saloon. The latter has better profit margins than the smaller car.

“We don’t want to get into a situation like that at Audi, where the smaller model has conquest sales from the larger model,” Autocar’s source said, hinting that although the A3 saloon has been a success, it has also stolen sales from the A4 saloon.

BMW is planning to switch the next 1 Series hatchback from its current rear-wheeldrive architecture to a front-wheel drive platform, upon which cars are cheaper to produce. After that model has arrived in 2019, BMW could begin offering the mechanically identical 1 Series saloon in global markets.

Another scenario has BMW twinning a new four-door GranCoupé model with the next-generation 2-series Coupé to create a rear-wheeldrive rival to the Audi A3 and Mercedes A-class saloons. 

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A final facelift for the rear-wheel drive BMW 1 Series, as it aims to take class honours from the formidable Audi A3 and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class

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31 May 2017
Clearly BMW think it's better to lose sales to the A3 saloon rather than steal sales from the 3 series. Which is a shame if the 1 series is going FWD soon - the 3 series is quite big these days.

31 May 2017
I'm looking at changing my car and looking at the 3, A3 and A4. Buyers who go to Audi will go to Audi and only in a very few cases will it be because the 3 is too big. Audi made a mistake with the A3 because most buyers I know see it as better looking and better value than an A4 and it definitely steals more sales from the A4 than the 3 Series.

31 May 2017
Seems a shame as it's much better looking than the hatchback...much better.

It also goes against their heritage...I mean if anyone should have a compact sports rwd saloon it should be BMW...

31 May 2017
rare wrote:

Seems a shame as it's much better looking than the hatchback...much better.

It also goes against their heritage...I mean if anyone should have a compact sports rwd saloon it should be BMW...

Absolutely right. Compact rwd sporty cars were what made BMW world renowned with the '02 seires' from the 60s and 70s and the early 3-series models.

The latest 3-series is now simply too large to be considered a true compact saloon. It's sad that not only are they not bringing the 2-series saloon to Europe, but moving the next 1/2 series on to the fwd platform.

BMW justify this by saying most owners don't even realise the cars are rwd, but I'll bet once the owners drive the new fwd cars they'll 'know' the cars just they feel the same as they used to.

31 May 2017
Meant to say the few cars won't feel the same to drive as the old rwd models.

31 May 2017
Nobody has picked up on the article. It says the car IS front wheel drive , if this isn't a mistake then I'm guessing this is the new global 1 series platform revealed early ?

31 May 2017
The existing Chinese 1 series is indeed FWD. It's based on the same UKL platform as the Mini and those 2 series MPV things.

31 May 2017
Really think that's a pity. Previously bought 3 Series / A4 / C-class cars in the past but they've been off the shopping list for some years simply because they're too big to fit in my garage! What's the point of continually making current saloons larger car when there are already larger models in the range? (Can anyone tell the difference between an A4 and A6 these days?)

As for that 'Autocar's source" argument of the A3 taking sales from the A4, well that's just plain stupid. Hasn't the A4 taken sales from the A6? Hasn't the 3 series taken sales from the 5? So what's the difference from the 1 taking sales from the 3?

31 May 2017
I like the idea of owning a good-looking small executive saloon. I don't like the 1 series hatch, and the 2 series only has two doors. The 3 series wouldn't fit in my garage.

Bottom line is that I would've bought the 1 series saloon if we had the opportunity to do so in the UK, so now I'm looking to spend my money on an A3 saloon instead and therefore give my money to a BMW competitor.

31 May 2017
Yes it's inevitable in this size of car and at this power level. The advantages of better packaging, lower weight, better stability, cheaper manufacturing costs and arguably more balanced looks far outweigh the handling and traction benefits that rear wheel drive offers. It's high time that BMW caught up!


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