BMW breaks tradition as it launches first front-wheel-drive hatchbacks in 2013 as new entry-level models to its lineup. These new vehicles will be based on the next-generation Mini platform and will be slotted below the 1-series, which will continue to be produced as a rear-drive family of hatches and saloons.
In addition, the new front-drive hatches will carry 1-series badges, meaning that buyers can have their choice of BMW's entry level (either front or rear-wheel drive).
Despite having the same badges, the two families of models will be distinguished by their unique sheetmetal and price positioning. The rear-drive car will be offered higher in price and quality than its front-drive stablemate.
There may be an apparent overlap with the Mini but BMW is not worried about its own front-wheel drive models affecting sales of the third generation of the British car due in 2014. In an interview with Autocar, a BMW insider said that these two brands have a "clear and individual image."
The source also pointed to the sales success that Volkswagen and Audi have gotten with both the Golf and A3. He also cited research that proves how appealing BMW and Mini are to different buyers.
Since different types of buyers are attracted to VW and Audi, BMW will target its front-drive and rear-drive 1-series at several groups as well.
The front-drive model will be developed to reel in new customers to the brand. The BMW source said that the company is seeking a car that will be liked by non-BMW buyers, with a "focus on roominess and interior flexibility." But similar to the current entry-level model, the cars will also be "fun to drive and cheap to run."