Spotted testing once more were the well-camouflaged new models of the BMW 1-Series. The UKL1 platform, a major investment by the Bavarian automaker, supposed to be powering the new generation MINIs, will be seen in the 1-Series. There is also speculation that the next batch of X1s might also go FWD.
The new BMW 1-series GT will offer a choice of wheelbases for five and seven-seat options. This could go on sale as early as early 2014, as a rival to the Mercedes B-Class.
About four years ago, BMW decided to start building front-drive cars under its own badge, a decision that came after a lot of deliberation since the luxury carmakers did not want themselves associated with ‘cheap’ in any way. But due to the economic conditions in its international markets it was forced to rethink its stance. By building two ranges of front-wheel-drive (and all-wheel-drive) cars, BMW hopes to increase its profitability.
The platform which makes the new FWD change possible is a typically modern modular architecture that will come in three wheelbases and at least two different seat heights. The UKL1 will underpin a very wide range of compact vehicles, from 3.8m to about 4.4m in length.
Looking at the cars that have been well camouflaged one can barely make out anything. Both body styles of the series will use BMW's new generation of 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, which have already been tested on the current 1-Series hatchback. The one which is the bigger of the two has a different hatch, but there appear to be similarities between the car's bodywork. Though the duo will not be getting the ‘series’ tag, they will be getting some really catchy codenames like FAST (Family Active Sports Tourer) for the smaller car and CAT (Compact Active Tourer) for the other.
It is likely that such vehicles have been aimed at newer markets like India, Russia and Brazil. Due to the difference in the purchasing behaviour of these markets as compared to BMW’s traditional strongholds in Europe and USA they will be significant for the German automaker. So significant that we expect BMW will start local assembly for them right from day one.