*2012 BMW 1-Series Hatchback Pictured aboveIt’s no secret that BMW is getting ready to adopta front-wheel drive layout for its smaller modelsincluding certain versions of the next generation of the 1-Series. BMW’s decision has already sparked a lot of discussions whether its front-wheel drive products will remain true to the brand’s “ultimate driving machine” motto or an insult to the company’s heritage.
Now it seems that the day we will see the first front-wheel drive BMW is closer than we thought. According to Autocar magazine, the 1-Series GT, which is said to be a more practical version featuring a high-rising tail like the 5-Series GT, will be the first BMW to adopt front-wheel drive. Its launch is scheduled for 2014.
The 1-Series GT will be based on the BMW Group’s new UKL1 platform, which will first be used on the next-gen Mini, due in late 2012, and in 2018 by the third generation of the 1-Series range.
The all-new platform will use MacPherson struts and the traditional Z-axle multilink rear suspension, while four-wheel drive will probably be an option, opening the road for a small crossover that will sit under the X3 in BMW’s range.
The German brand has big plans indeed for the UKL1, as it will underpin as many as 20 BMW and Mini models. BMW’s head of development, Klaus Draeger, estimated that the Munich-based automaker could manufacture as much as 600,000-800,000 FWD cars annually without the need to cooperate with another manufacturer.
If the report proves accurate, the only models in the 1-Series lineup to stick with RWD will most likely be the Coupe and Convertible and possibly a small four-door sedan.
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