The second-generation BMW 1-series will eventually evolve into six different body variants on two distinctly different platforms.
This variety will broaden the line-up against increased competition from the third-generation Audi A3, new Mercedes-Benz A-class and the Mk7 Volkswagen Golf — all due out next year.
Of most significance are two new front-wheel-drive models — a GT crossover and a small estate — due in 2014. They will pave the way for the third-generation 1-series range in 2018, which will see the bulk of body styles switching to a front-wheel drive set-up.
2011/12 - Five-door and three-door hatchesThe initial five-door and three-door 1-series hatchback models ride on rear-wheel drive (and optional four-wheel drive) underpinnings shared with the next-generation 3-series. The five-door model will launch in the UK in September and will be followed into showrooms by a three-door in spring 2012.
2013 - Coupe and CabrioletThe replacements for today’s two-door coupé and cabriolet models will also be rear-wheel drive. Significantly, they will renamed 2-series as part of a move to differentiate them from the 1-series hatchbacks.
The rear-drive 2-series models will differ from the 1-series hatchbacks by offering new turbocharged 3.0-litre, six-cylinder engines, with an optional seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The 2-series will be aimed primarily at the US market. However, while a four-door saloon might sell well in the US and Asia, sources insist no such model is in the pipeline.
2014 - Front-drive GT Crossover and EstateIn the future, BMW plans to introduce a more practical five-door 1-series GT featuring a high roof and riding on a new front-wheel drive platform that will be shared with various Mini models. The GT is likely to preceed an estate version aimed at stealing sales from the popular Audi A3 Sportback.