CARtoday.com brings you a sneak view of prototypes of the BMW 1-Series, designed to be the company’s first true entry-level car since the 2002.
CARtoday.com has been following the development of the BMW 1-Series with interest since its precursor, the CS1 concept, débuted at the Geneva motor show in March this year.
Although the Geneva show example was a convertible, many motoring scribes were convinced that a production model, bearing a close resemblance to the CS1, would be introduced in 2004. Sources say that the little car was designed to be the first true entry-level BMW since production of the now-legendary 2002 model ended in 1977.
According to , initial models are likely to be a fusion of a 1,8-litre, 86 kW four-cylinder engine and some 3-Series hardware.
In fact, BMW has high hopes of infiltrating the mass market with the 1-Series. To attract a new brand of customers, it is believed the German manufacturer will set a starting price of around R160 000 when the car is introduced in Europe.
The idea, as BMW sees it, is to provide a practical BMW alternative to 7-Series owners who are looking for a second car.
Pitched between the Mini and the 3-Series, the baby Beemer will compete with cars such as the Volkswagen Golf, Peugeot 307, Renault Mégane and Opel Astra. BMW describes the target market as “the upper segment of the lower middle-class”.
CARtoday.com reported earlier this year that both three- and five-door versions of the 1-Series were expected to début at the Frankfurt Motor Show next year. It will be followed by station wagon (Touring), coupé and convertible versions, likely to be sold as the 2-Series.
As many as 150 000 to 200 000 1-Series cars could be produced per year, a source within the Munich-manufacturer revealed.
The 1-Series will feature rear-wheel drive to retain that typical BMW sporty feel. It will be available in three- and five-door versions, and could be sold as the 116i, 118i and 120i, with Valvetronic engine units from the current 3-Series range.
An M version powered by a 132 kW two-litre motor, possibly called the Z2, has also been mooted, Autoweek reported at the weekend.