Like it or not (and we don't), FWD BMWs are coming. The first of the front wheel powered BMW models to come to market will be the 1 Series GT, spied here undergoing Nurburgring testing.
It has been developed on BMW's UKL platform, a FWD platform which will be shared between the new MINI Cooper to be revealed in a couple of months, and the upcoming FWD BMW lineup.
The final 1 Series GT design has recently been revealed in a set of patent design images
How many FWD BMWs should we expect?
According to a report
from late last year, up to 12 BMW and Mini cars were already approved for the UKL platform as of last year. These already-approved models will account for 40 percent of the group's unit sales of cars to be underpinned by the platform, or variations of it, within eight to 10 years. Europe will be the main market for BMW FWD cars.
"We've got plans to produce up to 20 new models on this platform. Not all of them have been approved yet – we’ve got approval on 10-12 new models," confirms Ian Robertson, member of the board of management at BMW, in the same report.
BMW believes that its new FWD architecture, known as the UKL platform (which will be shared with future MINI models), will be key to driving the company's future growth.
The company projects that the premium small car market will become the fastest-growing segment and it needs to expand aggressively into this market in order to battle for the top spot in luxury car sales over the next decade.
As for the doubters and traditionalists who fear and lament over BMW's expansion into the FWD market, BMW's product manager for front-wheel drive, Frank Niederlaender, assures: "In the '90s we broke with tradition when we began selling SUVs along with our sedans. Customers realized they could get the driving dynamics BMW is renowned for from an SUV. We will see the same transition happening with front-wheel drive."
Draeger adds that by 2020 the automaker expects to have a huge share in fwd models. "We are entering into new segments and are getting new customers who will learn you can drive very well with front-wheel drive."