Rumors of a front-wheel drive model to slot in below the 1 Series have been circulating for some time, with the most recent report coming last October. Now, Autocar has confirmed with BMW's chairman, Norbert Reithofe, that an all-new model is coming from the automaker, designed to compete with the recently introduced Audi A1 and built atop the next generation Mini's platform.
However, the unsurprising introduction of a new premium sub-compact won't just be limited to BMW – Reithofer told Autocar that, "We will be extending the BMW and Mini brands into the small car segment with new models and variants." The exec also took pains to differentiate the new Bimmer from the upcoming Mega City EV, saying that this new model is being developed for both front- and all-wheel drive applications, and that the new urban runabout is a separate endeavor.
Combined with the next Mini, due out as early as 2013, the automaker wants to become more than a bit player in the compact class, and in order to keep volumes of scale in check, the new FWD BMW is likely to be built alongside its Mini counterpart in Oxford.
Plans for a revamped 1 Series are also in the works, but the automaker hasn't determined whether the next 1er will be rear- or front-wheel drive. Regardless, the introduction of BMW's first FWD model signals a significant shift, but as long as the brand's patented driving dynamics are present and accounted for, it's hardly the end of the world.