BMW 1-Series Sedan Spied in Germany

Lending credence to an earlier report that the BMW 1-Series would be revamped as a front-wheel-drive sedan for the 2017 model year, our spy photographers snapped shots of the car testing in Germany. BMW will toss its hat into the ring of new front-drive entry-level offerings a bit after the arrival of the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA, as compact luxury cars like the 3-series continue to grow and leave room for smaller fish.

Although the upcoming BMW 1-Series sedan remains heavily camouflaged, its proportions alone betray the front-wheel-drive UKL architecture underneath. Sharing its underpinnings with the current-gen MINI Cooper and BMW 2-Series Active Tourer, the BMW 1-Series sedan moves away from the slung-back shape of rear-wheel-drive BMW sedans. Nevertheless you can guarantee that the new 1-Series will feature the all-important kidney grilles, roundel badge, and the strong character lines that define other BMW models—absolutes for younger buyers aspiring to gain entry to the Bavarian luxury brand.

Engine options are still uncertain at this early stage, but we do know of three possibilities. Given that the BMW 1-Series sedan will share its UKL platform with the Mini Cooper, that car's powertrains are a strong possibility. The base 2014 MINI Cooper employs a turbocharged, 1.5-liter three-cylinder good for 134 hp, the uprated Cooper S uses a 2.0-liter turbo-four making 189-hp, and the 2015 MINI Cooper JCW (as well as the 225i Active Tourer) features a 231-hp version of the same 2.0-liter turbo engine. To keep pace with the all-wheel drive Quattro and 4Matic versions of the A3 and CLA, expect the BMW 1-Series sedan to offer xDrive all-wheel drive.

In May of last year, European bureau chief Georg Kacher reported that BMW would revive the 1-Series on the UKL platform. While the outgoing 1-Series staked its claim as BMW's smallest rear-wheel-drive coupe, the current BMW 2-Series has taken up that mantle. The 2014 BMW 228i starts at $33,025 including delivery, but it's safe to bet that the BMW 1-Series sedan will be priced below that mark when it is expected to arrive in 2016, presumably right around $30,000. BMW will sell many different cars on the front-wheel-drive UKL platform that underpins this sedan, including the next-generation X1 crossover.

Check back soon for more updates on the next 1-Series as the story develops in the coming months.