So here it is: Autocar reports that we'll see the first front-drive BMW at the Paris Motor Show this September, in concept form. It will likely be called the 1 Series GT, and the report says it will debut in late 2014. The car will share a platform with the forthcoming Mini redesign, as well as the turbo 1.5-liter three-cylinder Mini engine that's basically half of a BMW 3.0-liter inline six.

Boo. Wasn't there something in the 1990 German Reunification treaty about BMW never making front-drive cars? Well there should have been.

Of course, we've known that BMW has planned to throw away what last bit of brand purity it still retains since early 2010, when its chairman announced as much. And we know the reasoning: The front-drive, entry-level Bimmers are for the customers too dumb to know any better. But that doesn't mean we have to like it, even if BMW says it will still build the larger, rear-wheel-drive cars that have made the brand so special for decades.

We will thus cling to the hope that this concept is just an elaborate marketing trick to drive sales of the current 1 Series.


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  • 93 Comments
      Storm
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Because BMW thinks front wheel drive is the work of Satan." ~ James May
      breakfastburrito
      • 2 Years Ago
      I fail to see the issue? BMW's been focused on selling bloated X5's to self-important bad drivers for a while now. Bimmers that hit the track are almost always E30's. When a new bimmer hits the track, it's covered in blue painter's tape, and getting lapped by everything else. Street-only cars do NOT need RWD.
      JOSEPH
      • 2 Years Ago
      I really don't see what the big deal is. BMW is just making a BMW version of the Mini, the same way Audi makes an A1 from a VW Polo. The regular 1-series coupe and convertible carry on as rwd from what I understand.
      leo
      • 2 Years Ago
      whatever the new 1 is not worth it and the current 1 will become the 2, so just buy the 2 for enthusiast you all do complain a lot about cars that are not aimed at you personally i'd take the new 3 if i had the cash
      GFB
      • 2 Years Ago
      Alas, it's true that FWD packaging is perfect for small cars. Alec Issigonis proved that long ago with the original Mini. The 1 series isn't smaller than the 2002, BMW's quintessential RWD sports sedan. It appears that modern drivers can no longer countenance a drive shaft hump restricting the already precious back seat room in this class of car. In my opinion, BMW should have committed to building a maxi-Mini to take the A-car slot and make a RWD 1 series as a lightweight entry-level sports sedan in its own niche. As it is, I can only hope that BMW is bold enough to mount the FWD engine package behind the axis of the front wheels.
      KAG
      • 2 Years Ago
      What's the point of having both the Mini and a BMW that are front wheel drive but have a smaller motor in the BMW? Wouldn't that make the Mini brand not worth it? Someone needs to be shot for the new front end of the 1 series.
        Dayv
        • 2 Years Ago
        @KAG
        BMW won't bring a 1.5 engine to the U.S. They offer a wider range of engines in Europe on both Minis and BMWs, dropping the smaller engines for the North American market.
      Dwight Bynum Jr.
      • 2 Years Ago
      So many people seem so upset by this. I fail to see the problem, especially with BMW having just filed trademark for "M2." It sounds to me like the 1 Series hatch is about to become the small economical car it's supposed to be, and the 2 series will be a sporty (and probably rear-wheel drive) coupe. And if you're too slow to catch onto that, chew on this little fun fact. Keep in mind that (increasing) CAFE standards still exist, and every single automaker has to do SOMETHING to adhere to them. If you think BMW isn't trying to tackle this, think of the upcoming i3 and i8 models. I highly doubt BMW will run the risk of diluting their brand or M division by offering their lowest, entry-level model as a FWD vehicle...
        kcroc10077
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dwight Bynum Jr.
        "I highly doubt BMW will run the risk of diluting their brand or M division..." M division dilution began a while ago and continues to this day.
      desinerd1
      • 2 Years Ago
      so.... 80% of 1 series owners thought they were driving a FWD car. This brings up some interesting points - a) most people buy it for status/bragging rights b) FWD/RWD/AWD vehicles are not that different in everyday driving c) if BMW sold poop and called it "The Ultimate Poop", people will still buy it. It's all marketing genius.
      Richard
      • 2 Years Ago
      The only thing the customers will want to know is...how much is the lease payment?
      Justin Campanale
      • 2 Years Ago
      This news is truly heartbreaking. First off, it confirms the fact that 80% or more of BMW are posers who only buy a BMW because it has a BMW badge, and are not car enthusiasts in any shape or form. This is also evidenced by the fact that over 90% of BMWs sold today in the US have an auto transmission. Most BMW owners don't even know the fundamentals of their own car-google search "V6 BMW for sale" and you'll see what I mean. I remember going to the dealrship once and I was met by a fat pimply faced guy complaining how his SMG equipped E46 M3 was "stuck in first gear" apparently he didn't know how to work the transmission, and had no idea of what a gear was, how to shift a gear, or even what a manual tranmission was. Second, it means that BMW is arrogant enough to not give a damn- they know what their custome base has turned into and cater to those exact kind of people. This explains the BMW dealers not telling the customers what their car is like-some even lie or stretch the truth in order to sell a car or not to overwhelm a non-enthusiast's customer's brain-when I was shopping for my old Z3 M coupe, the guy assumed I wasn't an enthusiast and told me the car had a V6, and that it will "impress all your friends". Third, it shows what BMW has turned into. Their cars used to be some of the most driver oriented vehicles out there, catered to only enthusiasts and usually equipped with a MT . Now, you pretty much need to buy an M/// car or a non-base engine car with a sports package in order to have any fun at all. They also have balooned in weight and have moved away from the characteristic high-revving engines which made them so special in an enthusiast's heart. They are even talking about developing a V6. They are still one of the most driver oriented luxury cars out there, but the competition, especially Audi and Infinit, and to an extent, Cadillac, is catching up. Hell, even senior citizen oriented Lexus offers an M3 competitor. Some folks who were there back in the late 80's (I was a kid back then) remember hen Ford was going to make a FWD Mustang which was going to be based on the MX-6's platform with a 4 cylinder engine. There was a big outcry, and there was a massive letter writing campaign, which made Ford rethink its plans. Us disgusted BMW fans should do something similar, except with Facebook. Letter writing is obselete. If BMW makes a FWD vehicle I will boycott all their products. I will not consider an M3 to replace my SRT8 Magnum, and I will sell off my Countryman All4.
        Trev
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Justin Campanale
        I don't know why anyone would downvote you. Your comment perfectly describes BMW's fall from the ultimate driving machine to just a brand with cache. The reason BMW became popular and has the cache is because they didn't tailor to to average buyer, they tailored to the enthusiast and the purest form of driving. Their late 80s, 90s, and early 00s cars gave them the reputation they are using today to sell 5 series GTs, x6s and fwd 1 series. Hopefully their reputation will sporty and purist reputation will quickly change with the new, boring cars being produced. Maybe that will convince BMW to go back to their roots and sell some really great cars again.
          The Friendly Grizzly
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Trev
          Their late-80s buyers are now well into middle age, and want to buy something more in tune with their present needs. BMW is simply catering to their loyal customer base. What they risk doing, however, is overdoing it like Cadillac did. BMW will find that with each new model year, their demographic ticks up another year. Cadillac noted this almost too late, but managed to keep from going over the padded-top fake-wire-wheel cliff and are producing some great cars now.
        Spellchecker
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Justin Campanale
        Oh please. Most owners of a particular brand aren't enthusiasts. Enthusiasts make up a very small portion of any brands buying core. It's always been this way. BMW is no different. BMW fanboys seem to have invented this myth that 99.9% of BMW customers are driving enthusiasts who take their car unto a track after work to have fun. Yeah, right. Do you know what a pain a RWD 1-Series Hatch is? I do. I own one. Yeah, it drives great and all that but from a practical point of view it's seriously disadvantaged when compared to all the FWD cars in its class. RWD takes up interior space, especially in such a small car. Fact. Furthermore this car totally blows in the wet. On a wet road the back easily breaks out and fishtails. In the winter I can't visit clients in provincial regions where the roads aren't salted because my car will get stuck (happens all the time in the winter). There's a reason why RWD went out of favor in small compact cars. BMW simply did it because it's what made them different. Yeah, it made them different but the overall practicality of the car suffered as a result. Now BMW has learned that most 1-Series owners (80%) think their car is FWD so that tells them something. It tells them that in the interests of practicality, fuel economy, cabin space etc. the 1-Series needs to be FWD. Very simple. BMW is simply reacting to the market demands. That's all. A 1-Series driver wants a compact BMW and the majority don't care if it is RWD. BMW is giving them what they want by making the car FWD which in turn improves fuel economy, potentially reduces the price and provides more cabin space - and better driving control in the winter months. They'll still cater to purists and driving enthusiasts with cars like the 3-Series, which will remain RWD. Futhermore FWD doesn't mean the next 1er won't be fun. There are tons of fun and great-handling FWD cars out there. Most people hating on FWD cars simply do so because they've been brainwashed into thinking it sucks. It's like those guys who start smoking because their best friends smoke even though they know it's bad for them. Peer pressure. Some magazine says FWD sucks and everyone wants to be cool so they say the same thing. Pathetic. I cannot comprehend why so many people are hating on FWD. I really don't get it. What is wrong with FWD? The fact that you can't really oversteer (drift) with it? That burnouts are harder to achieve? What is it? The way I see it, FWD has many advantages. Most people out there are more interested in cabin space, fuel economy and safer traction in the wet/winter than in performance numbers. FWD has its place. And if anyone can make a car handle and drive nicely, it's BMW. This FWD 1er will definitely and most likely be a hoot to drive.
          Spellchecker
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spellchecker
          Justin, once again, enthusiasts have always been in the minority when it came to brands. All brands. I'd go as far as saying that virtually brands have been successful because of their customers, not enthusiasts. Badges are powerful tools. BMW, Audi, MB etc. have powerful badges. It sells. BMW is a business. They have to make money to survive. By making the 1-Series FWD they'll be reaching more customers. It's good business. And it's business that is needed. In short: by making the 1-Series FWD, it'll attract more buyers interested in a premium badge and practicality and in turn BMW will receive the funds to build the ENTHUSIAST CARS for their ENTHUSIASTS (M3, Z4 M etc.). It's a lesser 'evil' if you will. Personally I welcome a FWD 1-Series. But for my next car I'm looking at a FWD Citroen C5 Tourer anyway so in the end it won't matter to me if the BMW 1er remains RWD or becomes FWD.
        kcroc10077
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Justin Campanale
        BMW 's leaders have stated publicly that if a business case could be made they'd embrace the general car buying population over enthusiasts. This is nothing new and is something the company said they'd do. It all comes down to profits. Enthusiasts are greatly outnumbered by the people who just want the roundel. And the people who just want the roundel don't really care about RWD, high revving engines, or sport suspensions etc. They just wanted a luxurious, plush ride and be able to say they drive a Bimmer. Its kinda funny as the cars get softer some of the bikes are becoming sportier.
      Myself
      • 2 Years Ago
      Well, BMW is listening to their customers most of which think their car is FWD. http://www.bmwblog.com/2010/03/24/bmw-survery-reveals-1-series-owners-think-its-fwd/ Which conclusively proves BMW owners purchase cars solely on the basis of pretentious image with no clue about what they're buying. Which would explain why they tend to be major league a...holes.
        Noah
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Myself
        I love how unless you bought a Ford, "you bought your car on the basis of image alone". Ford owners are completely practical, and everyone else... completely impractical. Anyone driving faster than you on the freeway... complete maniac. Anyone making more money than you... completely greedy. Anyone with a larger home than you... a total show off. Whatever makes you guys sleep better at night, I guess. But yeah, you're right... there's no value in owning / achieving anything above the status-quo. That's just down-right offensive and should certainly be outlawed.
          Tina Dang
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Noah
          +1 to Noah
          Myself
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Noah
          Actually, I drive a Mazda 3 and I had very specific reasons to buy one. I could afford a BMW 1 series, for that matter, I chose a different car. And your post, where you happen to mention status quo, conclusively proves that people DO choose BMW to improve their "street credit". I love when people talk through their hats and using no clues whatsoever to say what other drives, what they think of a, b or c, based on a single post. Great job, Noah. Now back to your ark...
        jvshenderson
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Myself
        Any great thing is going to attract its fair share of posers. You can't blame BMW for that. What you can blame them for is embracing the ignorant d-bags instead of the enthusiasts who helped make them great in the first place...
        ToyotaSupraMan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Myself
        No-no-no-no-no-no...it's "major league cocks".
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
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