The BMW 1 Series’ anticipated change to front-wheel drive is upon us. A test mule of the new car was caught in action by European photographers wearing heavy disguise but still revealing its proportions and door shut lines.
Without the need to accommodate a 3.0-litre straight-six length-wise, the new 1 Series, much like the current F48 X1, has a much shortened front end from its predecessor – the distance between front axle and firewall notably reduced.
The test vehicle had a 5-door body, but there is no indication either way at this stage if BMW will offer a 3-door variant as well.
As with the X1 as well as the recently-launched China-only 1 Series Sedan, the next-gen 1 Series hatch will be sitting on the BMW Group’s transverse engine UKL platform that is shared with MINI. We do not yet know if the 1 Series hatch is a further development of the Chinese market sedan or if it is a separately-run project.
It is too early to talk about powertrain options, but it is a safe bet that the current range of B-series modular engines will feature. The Chinese-special 1 Series Sedan offers both the 1.5-litre B38 3-cylinder and 2.0-litre B48 4-cylinder petrol engines; the hatch should additionally get diesel and perhaps even PHEV options as well.
Pictures: Stefan Baldauf