When the next generation BMW X1 arrives sometime around 2015, it will be based on a front-wheel drive architecture, sharing its platform with the Mini Countryman. This isn't new news – stories and editorials have been parsing BMW's FWD strategy for more than a year, and in April of 2011, now-CEO Ian Robertson proclaimed there could be six to nine new BMW and Mini models as part of a "compact car family" based on a shared platform.

A report in Autocar about the switch adds a few more details, though. In addition to the cost benefits from this arrangement, the next X1 will lose its six-cylinder engines but offer more room. The tranverse-mounted engines preclude the six-pot unless BMW redesigns it, so plans are for nothing any larger than four cylinders and possibly the 1.5-liter, three-cylinder powerplant slated for the 1 Series GT. A Haldex clutch will continue to provide AWD capability, and the upshot with the smaller engine bay and firewall moved forward is more room for passengers and cargo.

The platform is referred to as "UKL," for Unter Klasse (Under Class), and its place in the product portfolio is apparently more complex than simply saying it will form the basis for small Mini and BMW models: stories suggest it has been built with the flexibility to underpin the next generation 1 Series as well as the next generation 3 Series. No, that does not mean the advent of a front-wheel drive 3 Series, since the UKL platform was reportedly designed with features like a movable firewall support enabling transverse and longitudinal engines as well as FWD, AWD and RWD powertrains. It does, however, mean the ads proclaiming "This is why we don't make front-wheel drive cars" will probably never surface again.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 39 Comments
      BG
      • 2 Years Ago
      Unter Klasse - great name for this!!
        Gorgenapper
        • 2 Years Ago
        @BG
        *looks at article* Well damn, they really DID call it 'underclass'. As in 2nd class citizen. From Wikipedia: "The term underclass refers to a segment of the population that occupies the lowest possible position in a class hierarchy, below the core body of the working class." I don't care either way if BMW is diversifying out into making more affordable "ultimate driving machines" or baby strollers, but that is a horrid name for the platform.
      BG
      • 2 Years Ago
      Buffy won't want to drive this new version to Ole Miss, will she? What if one of the sorority sisters asks if it has the classic naturally-aspirated straight six mounted longitudinally? And they may prefer the characteristics of RWD.
      Bassracerx
      • 2 Years Ago
      To be fair less then half of bmw owners own them because they are the "ultimate driving machines" most of thier customers buy them because of the badge, the luxury, and they are pretty. If bmw did not cater to it's customer base that would be stupid. I would absolutely love to own a bmw to drive hard every day but honestly now its not worth it because of the cost has inflated with standard features that I don't want and also the reliability and cost of regular maintenance is horrid. If I want another luxury vehicle then ill go with another Lexus or an infiniti. But honestly with the high price of cars now a lowly dodge or Chevy or Hyundai is enough luxury for me.
      kyle
      • 2 Years Ago
      and i will officially never buy a BMW. i can't believe they are betraying the trademark of rear-wheel drive only and the reputation of building legendary sport sedans in favor of building small cars on shared platforms so posers can bask in the glory of driving something with a BMW badge. while they're at it, they should also scrap the idea of GT models. if the 5 series GT isn't an indicator of the butt ugly creation BMW will pump out and classify as a GT, i don't know what is. shame on you BMW for going against everything you've stood for as a brand in order to achieve cost effectiveness and appeal to the masses. ultimate driving machine my ass.
        Snark
        • 2 Years Ago
        @kyle
        I find that the people who get the most bent out of shape about BMW building RWD cars are the people who don't actually buy them, but just aspire to buy them because they're poseurs and love the idea of what owning a BMW would say about them, Reality check, chief: BMW's main series cars will always be RWD. The new 3-series drives better than the old one. The 1M is one of the most brilliant small performance cars I've ever driven. Any car that's actually worth it to have with RWD, BMW will continue to build with RWD. If you care, buy one of those and don't get so wrapped up in your fantasy of what the brand is supposed to mean. Are you really telling me you think there's some kind of advantage to having a tiny compact crossover on a RWD platform?
          MacProMan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Snark
          great comment... They are allowed to change and diversify and become even more profitable and thus offer more variety and new models. Not everyone wants RWD or the GT, that's why they will give us choices.
        aatbloke1967
        • 2 Years Ago
        @kyle
        "and i will officially never buy a BMW" Does that mean you'd unofficially buy one then?
        sparrk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @kyle
        they will still keep their RWD cars , don't worry.
      Justin Campanale
      • 2 Years Ago
      It's such a shame that BMW is going against everything they once stood for, and violating tradition. Just 10 years ago they were making some of the purest driver cars ever. Then they started making CUVs, the cars ballooned in weight and the drives got a lot softers, then they started to maket their cars specifically to poseurs, then they lost all their naturally aspirated engines, with the eventual demise of the current M3. For some reason it seems that every single car nowadays is becoming more boring, less fun to drive, heavier, less "traditional" and marketed more towards people who love driving as much as they love making paper clip chains. Every car is slowly turning into a bland, bloated version of a Camry. I oficially proclaim that this is the Dark Age of automobiles. If BMW carries out these plans, I will never buy a new BMW again. Maybe I'll buy a slightly used current gen M3 to replace my Dodge Magnum.
        Azazel
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Justin Campanale
        "For some reason it seems that every single car nowadays is becoming more boring, less fun to drive, heavier, less "traditional" and marketed more towards people who love driving as much as they love making paper clip chains. Every car is slowly turning into a bland, bloated version of a Camry." That's why every car I will own will be an "old" car. Cheaper to buy, cheaper to maintain, cheaper to insure, and cheaper to register. And more often than not, much more engaging to drive than their newer counterparts.
      carguy1701
      • 2 Years Ago
      >stories suggest it has been built with the flexibility to underpin the next generation 1 Series as well as the next generation 3 Series. No, that does not mean the advent of a front-wheel drive 3 Series, since the UKL platform was reportedly designed with features like a movable firewall support enabling transverse and longitudinal engines as well as FWD, AWD and RWD powertrains. That kinda sounds like what Chrysler was allegedly trying to do with thye LX platform before the Mercedes merger/takeover.
      telm12345
      • 2 Years Ago
      BMW sales of the 3 series are down - 26.7% down (per automobile mag). Maybe people don't want to spend $40K on a four cylinder autombile. I'm not sure how exactly this will work, but while I actually like that you can now enter the BMW family in the low $30's (X1), I feel like they're alienating customers and Audi is just eating their market share. Its like group think is setting in in Bavaria. I know the 6 sold well, butthat's still just 600 units last month. Most of their money does come from 3 series leases. Somebody needs to tighten management over there or they need to tell us what they're trying to do. Its like they're off on a tangent or something.
        aatbloke1967
        • 2 Years Ago
        @telm12345
        "BMW sales of the 3 series are down - 26.7% down (per automobile mag). Maybe people don't want to spend $40K on a four cylinder autombile." On the other hand, their European sales couldn't be better. Last month, the 3-series was the fifth best-selling car in the UK, having firmly established itself in the top 10 consistently now for the past couple of years. Much of the world has no problem spending $40K on a four cylinder car - only the US is facing that particular cultural quandary.
          The Wasp
          • 2 Years Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          "Much of the world has no problem spending $40K on a four cylinder car" There's apparently some shred of truth to this notion in Europe but to suggest that applies worldwide is patently ridiculous. While the US market seems to have a "cultural" issue paying high dollars for small size and/or low power, you would find the same is true in most of the world [pretty much everywhere outside the ivory tower, actually].
          telm12345
          • 2 Years Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          thumbs up aat, I appreciate it (and I am not being sarcastic).
        MacProMan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @telm12345
        $40k for a benchmark sports sedan that's efficient yet powerful, what's the big deal if it's 6 or 4cyl, get over it... btw, love my Z4 with the N20
      Dvanos
      • 2 Years Ago
      Not good, BMW is breaking it's own rules that have made it what it is today. First it was no FWD, then no Turbo M engines and now this? What's next? The 3 series goes to a V6?? As a BMW enthusiasts it saddens me, time to search the classifieds for a used bimmer from 2000-2006, the last period of great BMWs.
        Synthono
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dvanos
        It wasn't the rules, it was a marketing campaign. They'll get a shiny new marketing campaign to justify the changes.
        Ak74
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dvanos
        They were considering V6 for the next m3 but it never happened. So V6 not gonna be in BMW for at least 10 years
        Justin Campanale
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dvanos
        I couldn't have said it better myself. BTW, apparently BMW is working on a V6 to replace both the NA and the turbo i6. It would probably go in the 3.
        aatbloke1967
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dvanos
        BMW's first car was a rebadged Austin Seven. If you're going to set rules for yourself, then there's no problem if you "break" them. They're a business, all said and done.
      Snark
      • 2 Years Ago
      I find it hilarious that people are getting so bent out of shape about BMW going FWD on a tiny, dorky crossover that most of you wouldn't drive if you were handed the keys to one. RWD is great for the sports cars and sports sedans. Otherwise, it's a liability for packaging and efficiency, and it's a silly gimmick mostly intended to appeal to fanboys who need a reason to buy one over an Accord. Who cares?
      Justin Campanale
      • 2 Years Ago
      BMW is slowly turning into the Honda of the upscale car industry.
      Lachmund
      • 2 Years Ago
      it's getting worse and worse with BMW... quo vadis?!
      Aaron
      • 2 Years Ago
      What's the big deal. FWD has many advantages. Better traction than RWD only. Better efficiency. Much better use of passenger space. PLUS, by BMW's own research, 80% of 1-series owners THINK they own a FWD BWM. Clearly they wanted FWD.
        SatinSheetMetal
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Aaron
        80% of 1-series think they own a BWM and not a BMW? Man, I knew you guys were stupid, but I didn't know HOW stupid.
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