BMW 1-series hatch going front-wheel drive [w/ poll]

Photo credit: CarScoops

We don’t usually devote much space to spy shots here at CarSalesBase, but in this instance I figured I’d make an exception given that it might lead to an interesting discussion. In particular, after years of speculations and anticipation, we finally have the first pictures of the third-generation 1-series hatchback, which unlike the first two generations will be primarily front-wheel drive.

Now, I am not one of those people who are outraged by this transition – in fact, it makes a lot of sense to me. First, a FWD platform (shared with the 2-series Active/Gran Tourer, the X1 and the larger Mini models) is a much better fit with a compact car for many reasons: compared to a native RWD platform it is lighter, more space-efficient, and cheaper to produce. Second, anecdotal evidence suggests that most 1-series owners don’t even know their car is RWD. Finally, and most importantly to BMW, it is clear that the market does not much care for a RWD small BMW – the current 1-series sells OK, but lies behind its Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-class rivals in European sales. And the A-class only became this popular in its current, third generation, once it ditched its unusual layout and underpinnings, and went fully mainstream.

S0, what will the new 1-series look like? Well, we pretty much know already, as it will look a lot like the 1-series sedan that’s only sold in China so far [picture above]. Two interesting things for me here. First, to my eyes the FWD sedan looks better than the slightly awkward current-generation RWD 2-series [picture below]. Second, this will be yet another instance when a global carmaker decided to introduce a car first in China, before selling it in other parts of the world. 

So, what do you think of the incoming 1-series FWD hatch? Let us know in the poll and comments below!

What do you think of the incoming front-wheel drive BMW 1-series

  • So so - I respect it as an objective improvement, but will mourn the RWD models (45%, 35 Votes)
  • Love it - it's about time BMW produced a competitive car in this segment (29%, 23 Votes)
  • Hate it - it's an abomination that has no business in the BMW's line-up (26%, 20 Votes)

Total Voters: 78

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About Krzysztof Wozniak

Kriss grew up in Poland reading German car magazines, before moving to England and graduating to the British magazines, which he still considers the best in the world and continues reading them after he’d moved to the US. In college he promised himself he’s buy himself a used Porsche before he turned 30 (not to be accused of having a mid-life crisis), but instead family needs dictated a Subaru Outback. Still waiting for that perfect moment to buy a used 2008-ish Cayman…
You can find all his articles Here.


  1. Drew Meehan says:

    I think there should be a fourth option—”I respect the move to FWD but this looks like a Fiat Tipo and could destroy BMW’s premium credibility through design alone”

  2. I’m fine with the 1er being FWD, IF they keep a small RWD car in their portfolio.

    The 3er has become too big for its own good and is now kinda boring. Imo they need a smaller, more accessible RWD 2er for enthusiasts, maybe adding the oft rumored 2er Gran Coupe to the mix for better sales numbers.

  3. Losange says:

    Like all top brands, BMW has dropped their brand values a long time ago. USPs don’t matter anymore, they all went mainstream. Not wanting to be different anymore, not willing to give customers something to choose. Just the easy road to make money.

    Apart from brands like Citroen and Tesla, we live in an era with the laziest car designers/engineers ever.

  4. Bart Demandt says:

    I mourn the loss of the last RWD compact hatchback, but as Tuga says: as long as they keep the 2-Series coupe and convertible RWD, at least the enthusiasts still have an option.
    What I perhaps mourn even more is the loss of the last 6-cylinder option in a compact hatchback. I’ve never been a fan of the characteristics of downsized (turbo) engines, and BMW’s straight six, with or without turbo has always been an amazing piece of machinery: rev-happy and with a smoothness and great sound that no 4-cylinder can ever replicate, even artificially.

  5. This used to be my fav. brand…. back in 90s.

Let me know what you think of this article. Thanks!