Currently reading: BMW/PSA's front-drive 1-series
Small car platform deal to include Minis, and possibly BMWs

BMW and PSA Peugeot Citroën are set to extend their joint venture operations to include a new small car platform, which could be used to create a front-wheel-drive 1-series as well as the next generation of Minis.

Already involved in the joint design and production of four-pot engines for Mini and PSA models, the two firms are working on a deal to build a new modular front-wheel drive platform.

The planned structure will underpin the next-generation Mini range, as well as successors to the Citroën C3 and C4, Peugeot 308 and the forthcoming Peugeot 208.

“It’s no secret that we have been seeking to extend our joint venture operations. In the end we decided to build on our successful relationship with Peugeot,” said a BMW source. The decision is scheduled to be made public early next year.

But the biggest change would involve the platform’s use in the 1-series. BMW officials have hinted that future incarnations of the 1-series could sit on the same basic structure as the 2013 Mini.

“Nothing is concrete at this stage but discussions are on-going about whether or not BMW should break with the tradition of rear and four-wheel-drive cars,” said a BMW source. “For many in this company it is a taboo subject. But we have to be realistic with the targets we have set ourselves for fuel consumption and emissions, and they clearly favour a front-wheel-drive solution for 2018.”

The platform is said to centre on a front-end module, including the entire engine bay, front suspension and bulkhead, to which each car maker will attach its own rear end. That solution would allow BMW to retain the Mini’s multi-link suspension.

Greg Kable

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Rover P6 3500S 10 January 2010

Re: BMW/PSA's front-drive 1-series

I agree that the whole turbocharging argument was stupid - BMW still offer naturally-aspirated straight-sixes for those who still want them, and the -35i engine is superb (though I do like the old small-block V8 that previously wore that badge). To be fair, I wish that the M3 still had a straight six - the old 3.2 can produce north of 500bhp with a supercharger strapped on, so why they didn't keep it, recast it in light alloy, I don't know. The FWD debate is altogether more serious: whereas you can specify with your BMW what engine you want, you can't specify which set of wheels you want it to send the power to (except in some markets, where AWD is available). A FWD BMW just won't handle like a BMW should - small BMWs are about rev-the-nuts-off-it high-end power, giggle-inducing noise and lairy oversteer on the limit, not Mini-like annoying whine and understeer. Bigger BMWs are also supposed to oversteer on the limit, so a FWD 3- or 5-series will be most unwelcome.

Also, it's a common myth that BMW drivers don't know or care that their six-pot engine is inline and sending its power to the rear wheels. BMW drivers know and care that a straight-six is smoother and sounds better than a V6, because of its natural balance. BMW drivers know what understeer and oversteer are and that, as a general rule, RWD cars oversteer and FWD cars understeer. Most BMW drivers still buy manual gearboxes when others go for automatics. Remember, BMW drivers are mostly at least closet petrolheads. Sure, ask the average Audi/Merc driver and he possibly won't know/care, but BMW is different, simply because of its well-earned 'Ultimate Driving Machine' slogan. People don't buy BMWs just because they're cheaper to purchase, or cheaper to run, or are the most safe/reliable cars. Sure, BMWs are competitively priced (whatever people say, compare them to the equivalent Audi/Merc and they're good value for money), they're at the cutting edge of fuel-saving technology and safety, they're superbly built (the last time I saw build quality to match my parents' E39, it was in a Merc W123) and they even mostly look good (I like the 1-series, which balances purposeful and cute nicely, and I love the E60 5-series - what other car on the road has such presence? Also, the 6 looks good from the side, the Z4 is very pretty, even the much-maligned Bangle 7s, both E65 and F01, are handsome, as are the X5 and, from the front 3/4, the X6), but the reason people buy them is the way they drive.

ThwartedEfforts 9 January 2010

Re: BMW/PSA's front-drive 1-series

Rover P6 3500S wrote:
EXACTLY! The whole reason that people buy a 1-series over a Golf/A3 or a 3-series over a Passat/A4 is that they're prepared to concede some practicality for sheer driving pleasure.

On the other hand, BMW numpties obsessives complained endlessly about their beloved brand's switch to turbocharging being an heretical act comparable with a cartoon Muhammad, yet strangely sales have been unaffected by what are unarguably some of the best turbocharged engines on sale.

Could it be that BMW might implement their new strategy in a manner pleasing to BMW customers? Most BMW drivers wouldn't know if their car was I6 or V6 or RWD or FWD anyway.

Rover P6 3500S 9 January 2010

Re: BMW/PSA's front-drive 1-series

EXACTLY! The whole reason that people buy a 1-series over a Golf/A3 or a 3-series over a Passat/A4 is that they're prepared to concede some practicality for sheer driving pleasure. For BMW to sacrifice their integrity on the altar of FWD - or the V6 - would be absolute and utter heresy to me. Get a used E46 nowadays and it's cheap but fun motoring for the everyman - cheap to buy, cheap(ish) to insure, cheap even when it comes to fuel and to road tax. Once they've gone for FWD, we'll have a FWD 3-series, then even a FWD 5-series (reducing it to a mere Toyota Camry rival), then the 7 will go transverse, AWD... then the M division will be closed down in favour of one finding ways of making hybrids even less interesting... FFS, BMW, this isn't what we want from you! In all the eighty-two years you've been making cars, not one FWD production car has worn the BMW badge. Keep it that way! BMWs are about great handling combined with solidity, reliability, longevity, style and exciting soundtracks (which is why I don't like four-pot BMW diesels), not cheapness and economy (though it's astonishing the way that the EfficientDynamics project has improved the economy of even the M-cars, and I applaud them for it - it hasn't diluted the cars' character). If BMW go FWD, they'll have no unique selling point above Audi - the only way we'll be able to buy an I6-powered RWD car is if we buy an Aussie Ford Falcon. Please, BMW, don't betray your core fans, us petrolheads. Do diesels and EfficientDynamics all you like, just don't abandon your I6s or go FWD.