Right now, every BMW available on our shores comes in either rear- or all-wheel drive. But recent reports suggest buyers might see a front-wheel drive 1-Series in America in the next two years.
While BMW Global sales chief Ian Robertson has publicly dismissed the idea, an article from our friends at Automotive News cites a source who says the company is more than mulling the idea — and even floated 2019 as a possible target for the launch. For anyone who follows the automotive industry, the idea of a 1-Series on our shores shouldn’t be a total surprise.
The motivation, unsurprisingly, comes from arch rivals Mercedes-Benz and Audi.
At this time next year, both of the German luxury marques will have front-wheel-drive sedans in their stables, so it’d be reasonable to expect BMW to follow suit. That means along with the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and the Audi A3, buyers looking at an entry-level German sedan will have choices from all three of the country’s storied automakers. And from a consumer standpoint, that’s great news.
Now, the 1-Series is currently on sale in China, but we’d expect the specifications to change slightly for American audiences. So while we might see all-wheel drive or even plug-in hybrid variants here, don’t bet on seeing a BMW with a three-cylinder engine — which is available overseas — on the lot at your local AutoNation dealer.
To differentiate the 1-Series from its front-wheel-drive German competitors, we expect BMW to learn on its performance credentials, and give it a sportier look and feel. Of course, just a couple of years ago, even floating the idea of a “sporty” front-wheel-drive BMW idea might have made some purists go ballistic. But the platform — see the Mazda 3 — has gotten plenty of love from enthusiasts of late, so we don’t expect BMW to face much flack if the 1-Series does make it here.
We just sincerely hope it comes in a stick. More news when we have it.