BMW’s Dr Norbert Reithofer unveiled today what we were sort of expecting for quite some time now. It is the finishing touch in completely rewriting the rules of what one expects a BMW should be.
First we had a BMW SUV, and then came the turbocharged BMW. And then turbocharging invaded the sacred temple of BMW M, which also spawned not just one but two BMW M SUVs. Today comes the biggest shock of all – there is going to be a front wheel drive car with a BMW badge in the near future.
The new front wheel drive BMW cars will share the same next generation platform of front wheel drive platforms (with all wheel drive capability) as the next generation range of MINIs. These new BMWs could be about 3,800mm to 4,300mm long. BMW currently has a car around the upper ranges of that size – the 1-Series hatch, which has a rather seriously compromised interior space compared to its rivals thanks to the space taken up by rear wheel drive.
It seems like the ultimate sacrilege to enthusiasts but somehow I’m not that worried. BMW engineers have worked some pretty good magic on making the new MINI handle like its on rails. So there probably wouldn’t be anything wrong with the new Bavarian compact go karts of the future. There just won’t be any powersliding action with them.
I was already expecting this when talks between BMW and Mercedes-Benz as well as a few other potential manufacturers on sharing the development costs of a next generation front wheel drive platform did not result in anything concrete. The MINI brand alone simply does not have the economies of scale needed to be profitable with compact cars that have lower profit margins.
Look after the jump for Dr. Reithofer’s full speech.