BMW has abandoned its illustrious tradition of longitudinally mounted engines and rear-wheel drive with its Concept Active Tourer, a forerunner to the long-mooted range of front-drive entry-level BMWs.
A BMW insider has confirmed that the concept tourer would reach production imminently, with looks extremely close to that of the concept.
The five-door hatchback, on display at the New York motor show, is a plug-in hybrid with four-wheel drive. A transversely mounted engine drives the front wheels – an acknowledgment that entry-level BMWs from the new small car line-up will come with front-wheel drive – and the rear wheels are powered by an electric motor.
The platform is known as UKL1 and will be used in two wheelbase lengths both for the next-generation Mini line-up and the new range of entry-level BMWs to join the 1-series line-up from late 2013.
The Concept Active Tourer showcases BMW’s new 1.5-litre three-cylinder direct injection petrol engine that will be a staple of the small BMW and Mini line-ups. Codenamed B38, it will also be used in the i8 sports car where it is installed longitudinally.
The twin-scroll turbocharged engine is from a new modular family that will eventually support three, four and six-cylinder petrol and diesel powerplants boasting up to 60 per cent component commonality for more flexible production than today’s engines.
In the concept, the engine is supported by an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack mounted in the floor and drive is channeled to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Combined power is put at 188bhp. In all-electric mode, the concept is rear-drive.