BMW chairman Norbert Reithofer has confirmed that the firm remains committed to launching a smaller, more affordable luxury crossover to accompany next year’s 5-series GT.
The new smaller BMW Progressive Activity Sedan (PAS) will be based on the facelifted 3-series, due in 2010. As such, it will further bolster the burgeoning ranks of models based on the 3-series platform, slotting into the line-up between the Touring and the next X3.
As with the 5-series-based BMW PAS, the 3-series crossover will come with rear-wheel drive as standard, but four-wheel drive will be offered as an option.Designed to offer a slightly higher seating position than the BMW 3-series Touring, the five-seater should also adopt its larger sibling’s two-piece liftback for added versatility.
To help streamline production, the engines are likely to be drawn from the rest of the BMW 3-series range, with a future line-up of turbocharged four and six-cylinder petrol and diesel units mated to standard manual or optional dual-clutch gearboxes.
Earlier this year BMW stopped work on a project to develop a large SUV that would have given the firm a rival for the Range Rover. It blamed the collapse in SUV sales in North America for the decision.
BMW has also postponed plans for a future 8-series based on the CS concept, although there is a chance this car will still make production in the future. When he was asked if the worldwide financial crisis had affected plans for the 3-series GT, Reithofer said, “We haven’t cancelled the development project for a crossover off the 3-series because it is considered a volume builder with which we can earn good money.”
BMW first rubber-stamped plans for the smaller PAS over 18 months ago, but a definitive production date has yet to be fixed. Reithofer has been studying proposals to build the new car at BMW’s Spartanburg factory in the US state of South Carolina, or the company’s Rosslyn plant in South Africa, the source of the majority of 3-series saloons sold in the UK.
The 3-series GT won’t go on sale until 2011. It should cost around £27,000 in the UK, at today’s prices.