The very first prototypes of BMW’s upcoming 1-series saloon have hit public roads in Germany as part of a development program which aims to have the new four-door in UK dealerships near the end of 2017.
Based on BMW’s new front-wheel drive platform, as found beneath the recently introduced 2-series Active Tourer, the 1-series saloon has been conceived to rival popular premium brand offerings such as the Audi A3 saloon and Mercedes-Benz CLA.
The new four door forms part of an extended range of models that are planned to use BMW’s front-wheel drive underpinnings, known internally as the UKL structure.
Planned models include successors to the existing three- and five-door 1-series hatchback, next year’s second-generation X1 and a new three-door X2 crossover. The new platform also forms the basis of the latest generation of Mini models.
Although primarily aimed at traditional saloon markets such as North America and China, the new car is planned to form an integral part of BMW’s UK plans, sitting underneath the popular 3-series saloon at a price tipped to start at around £22,000
Among the clues to the identity of the 1-series saloon prototype pictured here is its extended front overhang, which is clearly longer than that of the existing 3-series saloon.
Dimensions for the new car remain under wraps, although it is expected to have a length of 4425mm. By comparison, the existing 3-series saloon stretches to 4624mm.
The first ever four door model to carry the 1-series name is planned to be offered with an extended range of three- and four-cylinder direct injection petrol and common rail diesel engines ranging in capacity from 1.5- to 2.0-litres.
As in the 2-series Active Tourer, they use a transverse mounting and, in standard models, channel their reserves to the front wheels.
Gearbox choices are likely to include a standard six-speed manual and optional nine-speed automatic. A multi-plate clutch system will also provide four-wheel drive capability on selected xDrive models, including a hot 125i M-Performance saloon planned to rival the Audi S3 saloon.
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