With Audi and Mercedes-Benz both gaining a foothold in the premium compact-sedan segment, courtesy of their A3 sedan and CLA, respectively, BMW is planning to jump on the bandwagon with a sub-3 Series sedan as well. Sporting the 1 Series Sedan moniker, the future BMW model will take over from the 3 Series as the company’s entry level sedan when it goes on sale. A pre-production prototype of the model was recently spied cold-weather testing in the northern parts of Scandinavia, where most German carmakers establish testing bases during the winter season.

Being a smaller sedan than the 3 Series is not the only novelty that the new model brings, as it is also the first ever BMW sedan with front-wheel-drive, something that the brand’s die-hard aficionados will certainly frown upon. Based on the UKL architecture, the new BMW 1 Series Sedan will share its underpinnings with the 2 Series Active Tourer and Gran Tourer, next 1 Series hatchback, next X1 and every future Mini model.

Apart from FWD, which will be standard on most lower-powered versions, a FWD-based all-wheel-drive system will also be available either as an extra or as standard when paired with the top engines. Speaking of which, the engine lineup will likely vary from a 1.5-liter three-cylinder mill to 2,0-liter four-cylinders – both gasoline and diesel - all of them being turbocharged and paired either with a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Continue reading to learn more about BMW’s FWD plans.

Why it matters

Until about a decade ago, BMW was among the biggest supporters of naturally aspirated engines and rear-wheel-drive cars, even going as far as using that creed in its marketing. A lot of things have changed in the last 10 years though, with 2015 seeing a BMW engine lineup that exclusively consists of turbocharged engines, while also introducing not one but two front-wheel-drive MPV models. With a study conducted on BMW 1 Series owners allegedly revealing that most of them believe that they’re already driving a FWD car, it is no wonder that the Bavarian carmaker saw fit to make that misconception a reality on its future compact cars.

In other words, the upcoming 1 Series Sedan will be the second of many more BMW entry-level models based on a FWD architecture with transversely mounted engines. That arrangement not only costs less to manufacture than a RWD version, but it also provides better packaging and considerably improves interior space – something to be desired in a compact family car. That said, there are also downsides to this configuration, as steering responsiveness and sporty handling is bound to go the way of the Dodo compared to the current RWD 1 Series.

2016 BMW 1 Series Sedan - spy shots

BMW 1 Series Sedan Caught Winter Testing: Spy Shots Exterior Spyshots
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BMW 1 Series Sedan Caught Winter Testing: Spy Shots Exterior Spyshots
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BMW 1 Series Sedan Caught Winter Testing: Spy Shots Exterior Spyshots
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