If you’re a BMW purist, you may want to stop reading here. Why, you ask? Because in a radical departure, your favorite Bavarian hatch is losing its key point of difference – that being its rear-wheel-drive layout. Ach nein!
However is it really all doom and front-wheel-drive gloom for BMW’s next-generation A-Class fighter? To find out more, let’s illustratively explore further:
The Ultimate Driving Platform?
The current F20/F21 1 Series is an absolute hoot to drive on a twisty backroad. It’s fast, tail-happy and communicative. Unfortunately, the downside to this is cramped back seat accommodation, due to its rear-wheel-drive layout.
To get around this packaging stalemate (and let’s face it, to spread costs for its FWD-based platform), BMW has switched to front-wheel-drive. But will it handle as good as its predecessor? Many skeptics have cast doubt, yet BMW is giving its best shot by using the automaker’s latest FAAR platform.
Mind you, this won’t be the first FWD 1-Series, as this distinction goes to the 1-Series sedan based on the current UKL platform and made in and for China.
By heading down this road, it’ll enable the 5-door-only 1 Series to be lighter, roomier, more agile and have the ability to support electric powertrains. Plus, don’t forget that it will offer all-wheel drive on higher-powered models.
Power To The Front And All Fours
There will be an array of 1.5-liter three and 2.0-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged diesel and gasoline engines spearheading the range, with power being sent to the front wheels via a 6-speed manual (availability depending on the model) and 8-speed automatic transmissions. There will be at least two hybrid models, one mild and one plug-in hybrid with a driving range in excess of 50km or 30 miles.
Yes, We’ll Get An M Performance Model
As with the rear-wheel-drive layout, the current six-cylinder models will also face the axe. Fortunately for performance enthusiasts, the six will be replaced with an evolved turbocharged 2.0-litre gasoline unit, pumping out over 300hp through an xDrive AWD system. This range-topper is likely to be called either the M130i or M140i xDrive by M Performance and will face off against Audi S3 and VW Golf R.
Sharper, Precision Styling
Sadly, the 2019 1 Series loses the long hood, short overhang proportions of the outgoing car, yet now features sharper and more precise sheetmetal surfacing.The Hofmeister kink moves away from the gentle, sweeping arch of the current car into an edgier, abstract adaptation.
BMW’s signature twin-kidney grille also departs from the norm with a design that’s angular, wide and aggressive. Arguably, you could almost label the overall new design as more of a tarmac-orientated X2 – but without the SUV-like cladding.
Possibly Five-Door Only
BMW may follow the latest market trend that sees automakers ditching three-door hatchback models altogether over low demand and offer the 1-Series hatchback exclusively as a five-door model. Evidently, this move would help the Bavarian brand reduce production and development costs.
What About The Interior?
While we know that the platform switch will result in improved space inside, especially for rear passengers, we don’t have anything yet on the interior design. However, given BMW’s tendency to a) employ, if not identical, very similar cabins across same-sized models regardless of body style and b) take an extremely cautious and evolutionary approach to interior designs, we wouldn’t be surprised if the 1-Series cabin ends up looking a lot like that of the X2.
Premium Hatch Alternatives
Mercedes-Benz may have beaten BMW to the punch in revealing their latest A-Class, however, the latter suffers from the same sausage, different length approach to design which could very well give BMW the upper hand.
Expect the all-new 1 Series to debut either towards the end of the year or in the first quarter of 2019, possibly at the Geneva Motor Show, with an M performance model to follow within the next 6-12 months.
So, are you disappointed that the new 1 Series has gone front-drive, or doesn’t it matter? Share your views on that and our spy shot-based illustration below.