While it’s probably not the end of the world some might see another sign of the apocalypse in BMW’s apparent plan to introduce its first front-wheel-drive model at the upcoming Paris Motor Show.
The new offering will bear the badge of a 1-Series GT and is reportedly going to share the same platform as the next-generation Mini, according to our friends at Autoblog and Britain’s Autocar.
Other sources suggest it will also be dubbed the new Compact Activity Tourer, or CAV, reflecting its tall, crossover-like shape. It would complement, rather than replace the new X1 Sport Activity Vehicle, or SAV. It’s expected to feature a higher seating position than other 1-Series models, much like BMW’s current 5-Series GT.
The new 1-er GT is apparently being developed to compete with the latest-generation Mercedes-Benz B-Class line.
BMW Chairman Norbert Reithof first signaled the possibility of a front-driver back in 2010 and the upcoming update of the Mini was a perfect opportunity. Like all automakers, BMW is intent on improving its economies of scale by sharing components wherever possible. Nonetheless, purists were hoping the maker would back away from that strategy and retain its focus on rear- or all-wheel-drive across the line-up.
For the moment, it appears there are no other models coming with torque spinning exclusively through the front tires. The rest of the 1-Series is expected to remain rear-driven.
The current plan is to power the 1-Series GT with several different engines – including a turbocharged 1.5-liter 3-cylinder gas engine that also will be shared with the Mini – as well as a 4-cylinder gas powerplant from the BMW toolkit.
Plans call for the GT to reach European showrooms in 2014. Whether BMW will bring the GT to the States is uncertain but the maker is showing an interest in expanding its line-up in all key markets. American motorists will see at least some of the other 1-Series offerings, however.