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2023 March
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Car and Driver: Here’s Another BMW We Don’t Get: The 1-series Sedan


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The fact that BMW is switching to front-wheel drive for its next-generation 1-series is a poorly kept secret. Here’s a precursor to those models: The front-wheel drive 1-series sedan, derived from last year’s BMW Concept Compact Sedan, and to be built and sold exclusively in China.



BMW doesn’t divulge any technical details at this moment, but we know that the car is based on the company’s UKL platform, shared with the Mini and the current X1, as well as BMW’s not-for-the-U.S. 2-series Active Tourer and Gran Tourer family haulers. Which means the 1-series sedan is all but certain to use BMW’s new, modular three- and four-cylinder engines.


The 1-series sedan will be available with cutting-edge connectivity features, an area where the company excels. And it will be produced exclusively with BMW’s joint venture partner Brilliance Auto in Shanyang/China. While developed in Germany, the new model was honed “with the support of Chinese engineers,” says BMW.


In the Chinese market, the good-looking new model competes head-on with the Audi A3 sedan and the Mercedes-Benz CLA, but it will also face stiff competition in the form of the VW Golf-based, more upscale VW Lamando, and near-premium local offerings such as the Qoros 3 sedan.


The compact sedan looks good—and we kind of wish it were offered beyond China as well. Or maybe not. There’s still merit in a rear-wheel-drive architecture, and so it’s probably a good thing BMW sticks to its traditional architecture in Europe and the U.S.—for the time being, at least.


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