BMW, the last bastion of RWD goes FWD

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BMW Active Tourer Concept will lead the roll-out of three-cylinder engines and front-wheel drive models.

BMW has long been the flag-waver for the “sheer driving pleasure” of rear-wheel drive cars, with a former international boss even once dismissing Audi as a rival because it didn’t have a rear-drive platform.

But, all of life is change and BMW is showing that to be so.  The new platform called the UKL1 will be underpinning the coming Mini and will also be used for 11 new models across both the Mini and BMW ranges.  This was revealed by Ian Robertson, BMW global board member for sales and marketing, who told Auto Express in the UK.

BMW Active Tourer.BMW Active Tourer.

He said the first of the front-drive BMWs would be the Active Tourer, to be shown at a motor show early next year – and also the first BMW to be powered by a three-cylinder engine.

Based on the Active Tourer concept unveiled late in 2012, the new arrival will face off against the Mercedes-Benz B-Class, coming Audi Q1 and the booming small prestige crossover field.

Its front-drive spearhead will be followed by a seven-seat version, another small SUV, a potential small city car and up to eight Mini models.

BMW has certainly defected to FWD from its previous RWD designs.