BMW Considers RWD Next-Gen 1-Series
BMW has had to do some very deep soul-searching when it comes to the 1 Series. On the one hand, its rivals are all front-wheel-drive, and the rear-wheel-drive 1 Series suffers by comparison when it comes to interior space, something which is important in a hatchback. But this is a BMW, not a Mini, and while all-wheel drive is a generally acceptable alternative to rear-wheel drive, the purists would not be happy with a car that sends power to just the front wheels. Of course, Porsche has shown that sometimes ignoring purists is the most profitable option.
There is some good news for those purists though, as BMW has a new board member, Klaus Frohlich. Frohlich seems very much of the opinion that the emotional element of BMW’s cars is very important, and that means rear-wheel drive “from the 7 Series down to the 1 Series.” BMW has a new scalable rear-wheel-drive architecture, making its production debut in the new 2016 BMW 7 Series, which will make implementing rear-wheel drive in the 1 Series easier. Luggage space will still suffer, but Frohlich is confident that other BMW vehicles can fill that roll.
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Why it matters
Even though Frohlich used the incredibly irritating marketing-speak word “emotionalize” in his interview, he has a point. Those who go simply by numbers when they buy cars probably aren’t going to spend the extra on a BMW anyway. BMW is going after customers who want a car because they love it, and a more engaging driving experience is one of the better ways to accomplish this. It’s also important that the new architecture, both the rear-wheel drive and the new front-wheel drive, was designed to accommodate alternative (i.e. hybrid or plug-in) propulsion. That means that a BMW will more or less always drive like a BMW no matter what is making it go. That’s an important move, and it’s good news for anyone who was worried about the prospect of a front-wheel-drive drivetrain in the next generation of the 1 Series.
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