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BMW front-wheel-drive revolution still on track: report

Out with the old: While the M140i might be the only performance variant in the existing 1 Series line-up, a new M130iX variant will be introduced for the third-generation model.

Next-generation entry-level BMW models to ride on front-wheel-drive FAAR platform

15 Mar 2018

BMW is set to expand its front-wheel-drive model range with its new FAAR platform that will underpin the next 1 Series and first 2 Series Gran Turismo, according to British automotive publication Autocar.

Citing an unnamed high-ranking official from the German car-maker, Autocar reports that the FAAR architecture – or Frontantriebsarchitektur – is a significant update of the current UKL platform, which the existing X1, X2, 2 Series Active Tourer and Mini line-up ride on.

Key changes to FAAR over UKL include extra modularity, and the ability to support pure-electric drivetrains and battery set-ups, helping to future-proof the front-wheel-drive model family.

The first FAAR model will be the third-generation 1 Series hatchback, due next year, which is set to have a lower kerb weight, increased dimensions, improved packaging and a transverse engine instead of the longitudinal powertrain in the current rear-wheel-drive small car.

This model changeover will also usher in a new performance variant, dubbed M130iX that features a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with about 224kW of power and BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system.

It is unclear if the M130iX will supersede the existing 250kW M140i performance flagship, but it will go toe to toe with the Volkswagen Golf R, Audi S3 Sportback and forthcoming Mercedes-AMG A35 4Matic+ from 2020.

As previously reported by GoAuto, BMW M has been contemplating a four-cylinder model that would stay true to its ethos, with the M Performance-branded M130iX seemingly fitting the bill.

Additionally, at least one mild hybrid powertrain will be on offer, combining a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine with an integrated starter motor and a 48V electrical system. A 20 per cent fuel efficiency improvement over the current 125i is claimed.

A plug-in hybrid variant under BMW’s i Performance banner is also on the cards, pairing a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack.

Other variants will be powered by a revised family of 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, with more powerful petrol versions set to adopt a particulate filter that will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Conversely, the 2 Series Coupe and Convertible, due in 2020 and 2021 respectively, will retain the rear-wheel-drive CLAR platform – albeit an updated version – for their second-generation models.

The 2 Series Gran Tourer and 1 Series Sedan are also underpinned by the aforementioned UKL architecture but neither is sold in Australia, with the latter a China-only proposition.

The former will enters its second generation alongside its 2 Series Active Tourer sibling – BMW’s first dedicated front-wheel-drive model – in 2021, with both upgrading to the FAAR platform.

Meanwhile, the 1 Series Sedan will remain in China while other markets have access to the first 2 Series Gran Turismo, a sedan-cum-hatchback similar in proportion to the recently-launched 6 Series Gran Turismo.

Set to lob in 2020, the 2 Series Gran Turismo will be mechanically related to the next 1 Series hatchback while aiming to take on the Mercedes-Benz CLA.

Naturally, the next-generation X1 and X2 small SUVs, and Mini range are expected to adopt the FAAR architecture, with BMW’s smallest crossover said to feature a pure-electric iX1 variant that will effectively replace the i3 in 2022.

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