Front-wheel baby plan

BMW’s Mini ex­pe­ri­ence could pay off, writes Neil Dowl­ing in Ger­many

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

THE first front-wheel-drive BMW is com­ing. Af­ter a life­time of sporty rear-drive mo­tor­ing, the Ger­man brand is about to tap its front-wheel-drive ex­pe­ri­ence as owner of the Mini brand to cre­ate a new baby car.

The new car will com­pete with the Audi A1 and new-gen­er­a­tion A-Class from Mercedes-Benz, but it could be dif­fi­cult to find a name, be­cause BMW is al­ready right at the bot­tom with its 1-Se­ries.

An in­sider says: ‘‘It’s def­i­nitely some­thing we are look­ing at, but there’s no tim­ing on this.’’

The Mini is made as a fron­twheel drive or all-wheel drive — with the lat­ter per­fectly suit­ing BMW’s rep­u­ta­tion as a builder of sports-ori­ented ve­hi­cles.

It also eases BMW from its strait­jacket pol­icy as a man­u­fac­turer only of rear-drive — and in some cases all-wheel-drive — cars.

A BMW spokesman ad­mits the com­pany is se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing a model smaller than the cur­rent 1-Se­ries.

The pro­posed BMW could use the Mini Coun­try­man plat­form that, in one form, is all-wheel drive. And, un­like other Mini mod­els, the Coun­try­man is made in Aus­tria, close to BMW’s Bavar­ian base.

Mini and BMW have, un­til now, not shared com­po­nents. But the rumour of the com­pact BMW with Mini un­der­pin­nings co­in­cides with the next Mini diesel, which has a BMW tur­bod­iesel pow­er­plant.

The new 1.6-litre tur­bod­iesel, which ar­rives in the Mini later this year to re­place the ex­ist­ing diesel, is a mod­i­fied ver­sion of the 2-litre BMW en­gine.

Go baby: a com­puter-gen­er­ated im­age of what BMW’s new front-wheel-drive car might look like.

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