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A dozen FWD BMWs rumoured by 2016

2011-02-04 11:27

REPACKGED: Is the 1 Series set to become BMW’s poster child for front-wheel drive?

After BMW’s shock announcement of its intention to introduce front-wheel drive to its range, fans of the blue and white propeller roundel have been wondering how extensive the proliferation of transversely mounted engines would become.

Industry analysts expected BMW to introduce front-wheel drive derivatives in sub-compact and small coupe form, yet the latest rumours from Germany indicates the possibility of up to 13 front-wheel drive vehicles across the company’s brands by 2016.

Naturally Mini, producing only front-wheel drive cars, is in a position to absorb and offset most of the front-wheel drive expansion, but the brand is already being spread rather thin across a range of niches.

The first front-wheel drive car to sport a BMW badge is expected to be an upcoming GT version of the 1 Series.

BMW’s hugely successful X1 crossover could also feature front-wheel drive as part of its first life-cycle upgrade.

After research by the company indicated that most of its 1 Series owners were not aware which wheels actually powered their cars, BMW feels confident that there would be negligible brand dilution (or erosion of a unique selling point courtesy of drivetrain configuration) with regards to converting many 1 Series platform derivatives to front-wheel drive.

Predictions still hinge on Mini taking up most of BMW’s front-wheel drive expansion.

A mid-term Mini product portfolio looks likely to expand to nine models: Cooper hatch, Cooper convertible, Clubman, Coupe, Roadster, Countryman, Paceman, Mini Van and Mini Mini. This leaves four slots for front-wheel drive BMW-badged cars in the expected 13-car 2016 front-wheel drive model matrix.

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