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For the first time ever, BMW’s upcoming front-wheel drive sedan has been sighted by our spy photographers. This new sedan is codenamed the F52 NES (New Entry Sedan) and will allow BMW to compete head to head against rivals like the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class and the Audi A3 Sedan.

Based on current BMW nomenclature it should logically be called the 1 Series Sedan, but you know how odd BMW naming can get these days – it might just end up being called the 2 Series Gran Coupe or 2 Series Active Sedan or something like that, since the 2 Series name somehow also applies to BMW’s B-Class/Golf Sportsvan competitor, the 2 Series Active Tourer.

The car will most likely not use the 2 Series Coupe‘s rear-wheel drive layout, but is instead expected to share the same UKL front-wheel drive platform with products like the new MINI range and the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, and should also share gearbox and drive layout options. The UKL platform will allow better interior space.

This means three-cylinder and four-cylinder engines mated to six-speed manual, six-speed auto or eight-speed auto gearboxes, with drive going to the front wheels with all-wheel drive perhaps an optional extra, since the CLA and A3 Sedan comes with 4MATIC and quattro options respectively.

We recently pitted the 316i against the CLA and A3 Sedan in an episode of Driven, because while BMW doesn’t yet have a direct competitor to the cars from the other two German marques, the 316i manages to undercut both in pricing while being from a segment size above. Could the F52 Sedan be positioned to be even more affordable than the 316i, if BMW Malaysia decides to sell it here?