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Automobile Magazine has put together a preview of the upcoming front wheel drive BMW lineup, including a 1-series GT, compact activity tourer, family activity sportster, each intended to utilitarian vehicles. BMW development boss Klaus Draeger has previously confirmed
that the new FWD architectures will debut in 2014.
Although only a few models are discussed below, sources say that at its peak the new FWD architecture will underpin up to 20 different BMW and Mini model variants.
Per Automobile Magazine
BMW Joy and Mini Clubman: Joy is simply the internal name for a 1-series Gran Turismo, featuring a similar body shape to the current 5-series Gran Turismo. Even with its slant-back shape, this is the most traditional of the three vehicle lines and will target the Audi A3 Sportback and the Mercedes-Benz B-class. To set the two models apart, the Clubman will get two full-length, rear-hinged aft doors and retain the split barn doors for the tailgate.
BMW Compact Activity Tourer and Mini Countryman: These vehicles feature four conventional doors and large single-piece tailgates, but the higher roofs to lend them a more utilitarian look that's more crossover than car.
BMW Family Activity Sporster and Mini Traveller: The official name is still up in the air, but the Traveller is the long-rumored MiniVan. Both the BMW and Mini models are to be family- and leisure-oriented, boasting sliding rear doors, longer rear overhangs, and super-flexible interiors.
The ability to offer both front- and all-wheel drive on the ULK1 architecture is critical to challenging the Audi A3 and the next Mercedes-Benz A- and B-class. To keep up with the higher performance Audi S3/RS3 and Mercedes-Benz B22 AMG, Mini will continue to develop the Cooper S and John Cooper Works portfolios. BMW, on the other hand, is still pondering whether to downsize the M model range or to opt for a more unique ti/tii approach.
To differentiate the vehicle pairings, Mini will put a strong emphasis on three-cylinder engines. However, it's unclear if the new three-cylinder lineup can cover the entire range including the Cooper S and even the John Cooper Works cars. Engineering has reportedly developed a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder producing 272 hp, but we're still waiting to hear more details about running characteristics and durability. The volume-model gas and diesel three-cylinders would be good for up to 184 hp and 122 hp, respectively. BMW chairman Norbert Reithofer notes that selling three-cylinder Minis may present a challenge: "Although the three is definitely an up-and-coming thing, some markets like North America may be skeptical in how far down you can go. For our rear-wheel cars, fours and sixes have therefore a clear mid-term priority."
And rear-wheel drive will continue to play a role at BMW, even in small cars. Sporty variants of the 1-series, such as the coupe, the convertible, and the soon-to-arrive M coupe, will still send power back to the rear axle. For the BMW front-wheel-drive products, though, insiders are predicting an emphasis on new four-cylinder units. Expect two different gas engine families: a 1.6-liter (N13) covering the 122 hp to 177 hp bracket and a 2.0-liter version (N20) spanning from 184 hp to 252 hp.
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