Brave New World : BMW's (Front) Wheel Drive Future...
Brave New World...BMW's (Front) Wheel Drive Future...
* 1001 Is the models internal designation.
It is possibly the most irregular concept that strikes fear into BMW enthusiasts everywhere.
In marketing BMW has always kept the BMW image strong by 3 core principles. Image , Dynamics and Rear Wheel Drive.
Now with the revelation that BMW have indeed drawn up plans to introduce a Front Wheel Drive car the reactions get louder and increase the debate and the fear.
First of all contrary to media reports and enthusiasts of the BMW brand , Front Wheel Drive is part of a strategy to help the next generation MINI and it's future variants to become more profitable and more cost effective for BMW to produce.
Initial strategies had lead to talks with PSA , Fiat and of course Daimler where the beginnings of a proposed MINI and Smart sharing programme disintegrated when BMW decided to go it alone.
The online enthusiast board reaction has been to overwhelm the negatives of the BMW philosophy but some overlook one very important ideal - BMW already do Front Wheel Drive and do it well , a car that has seen off new impressive competition such as the Fiat 500 and Audi A1 when it comes to make a Front Wheel drive car that handles , has a great image and offers the customer a perfect choice of flexibility. It is called the MINI.
The Front Wheel drive BMW is limited to a small car concept that will remain within this segment only. BMW have no intention to completely kill it's golden goose and sacrifice it's core models such as the 1er , 3er , 5er etc to accomodate Front Wheel Drive. These models will remain rear wheel drive.
The key to this is a brand new compact platform shared with the MINI that if the first outcome is successful then BMW will build a range of models to support it's new segment. This new Platform which has been engineered to support the MINI and BMW 1001 will be used within each Brands variants. MINI of course will be the first to expand and after an establishment period has indicated that BMW's concept was a success then BMW's design teams have on the table a range of additional concepts for the expansion. Another key to the cost effectiveness of the car is that engines will also be shared as well manual,automatic and electric drivetrains. Engines will also be shared ranging from three and Four cylinders in both petrol and diesel format.
The big issue facing engineers and designers is whether to imitate the BMW Concept or start afresh aiming for an entirely new appearance to signify this new direction? You will have typical BMW design elements but reinterpreted to give a new impression of a totally different idea of a BMW.
The overall shape of the car differs completely from the typical MINI format , the closest intention on the market today is possibly the Honda CR-Z. In order to really sell home the concept. BMW wants the car to really strike out not just from the MINI but also it's competition.
The designers have gone for an edgier three-dimensional appearance in it's explanation it forgoes the use of lines to enhance wheelarches and now becomes more Three-Dimension as it is now stamped so you can see the widening of the rear quarter.
One idea intended to signify the new direction for BMW is expanded design cues talked about previously such as an enclosed normal glasshouse that is pushed inwards allowing a line that curves around the rear window forming the typical BMW kink impression in metal instead of the glass that follows through the doors to the front wing. The A-Pillars follow the direction shown with the Vision Efficient Dynamics concept and continue down into the front wing leaving a typical BMW wheel at each corner look , triangular shaped lights sit upon each corner, with the typical BMW double round headlights stepped with one slightly below the other another idea is the inclusion of indicator signals directly underneath the angel eyes.
The front of the car gets a smaller twin kidney grille again more three-dimensional as the front of the car allows the grille to be pushed further back.
At the rear of the car we have typical on each corner light units faired inwards with the body covering over the top parts of the units.
An expansive glass area wraps around but leaves a reasonable typical BMW C-Pillar. The shape of the glasshouse is dictated by the shape of the roof allowing a typical BMW sloping roof.
The stand-out stylish design has been chosen to really signify the new direction , a regular typical hatch would not be a major selling point to deliver the concept.
The interior will be unique to the car but as per BMW group the stuff you can see will be individual to the brand whilst the wiring etc will be shared across with MINI and BMW.
Another key factor for BMW is the driving comparisons with MINI and how the engineers will go to lengths to make sure that both MINI and the BMW 1001 offer as much differences underneath as they do in appearance.
The MINI will retain it's typical MINI Go-Kart trademark handling whilst BMW will be looking for a more dynamic approach , both levels of dynamics for both cars are attainable.
The 1001 will be used as a guinea pig to establish whether there is a market for a new BMW concept but the general idea of thinking ahead is very much evident in ideas for additional concepts.
The 3dr city car will come first but other ideas on the table seem to indicate an expansive strategy with a cabrio , small SAV or possibly Sport Activity Coupe , a Compact Tourer and even a small sedan.
One other thing in regarding to the 1001 is that it will not offer an expansive personalistion programme in the same vein as MINI, there will possibly be more of an personalisation in the guise of performance parts but the problem with personalisation is that since the advent of the MINI competitors have begun to realise the profits generated by specifying optional equipment , to which newer competitors have crossed the lines of what personalisation involves with more image enhancement - some very much in bad taste.
What about Performance , What about M?
Again it is too early to reveal whether such a concept will be attempted by the M Division such as the thought of which is causing sharp gasps of air at the mention of M Division and Front Wheel Drive?
What has been discussed and actually has been added by a designer is an RR model using the colour pallette from the S1000RR Superbike.
Something that has caught the attention of the BMW board and marketing because it establishes a new performance concept without sullying the sacred M Division although many feel that has already been done.
Why the need for a Premium Front wheel drive Concept from BMW?
The recent recession taught us that customers are willing to downsize to other segments if there vehicles offer the same luxuries and features as traditional luxury concepts. The prime example being MINI where in some markets for MINI sales were actually rising it was only to further examination that a higher majority of these cars were being built with nearly every option in the brochure.
To signify the importance BMW will preview the City Car concept in the future and be ready for launch in 2014.