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BMW has confirmed that it will introduce a new front-wheel-drive-entry-level model, positioned and priced between the 1-Series and the Mini, according to BMW chairman Norbert Reithofe.

The new model is going to be sharing parts from the Mini line and the existing 1-Series and is being developed as part of BMW’s plans to help increase parts sharing. With the introduction of this model, it will bring to an end to the era of rear and four-wheel drive-only BMW models.

When Reithofer spoke to British car magazine Autocar, he said that BMW studies revealed that, despite the downturn in the world’s economy, there is a demand for “premium vehicles” in the small car class.

"We will be extending the BMW and Mini brands into the small car segment with new models and variants," said Reithofer.

The car will be introduced to compete with the new Audi A1 and new Smart ForFour, although, I doubt the latter will be much competition here in the U.S.

The new small car will be completely different then BMW’s upcoming city car, which will be electric and is a totally different project.

Details have not yet been released on the new small BMW; Autocar confirmed that it would use the same underpinning as the next-generation Mini Cooper.

The new Mini won’t see the streets until 2014, but the small BMW could hit UK roads by 2013, due to BMW’s desire to be the undisputed sales king in the premium small car class.

Since the new small BMW will share the same underpinnings as the Mini, Autocar believes it will be build in Oxford, using the newest generation of petrol and diesel engines.

Studies are also under way that could result in a new platform structure that, according to Reithofer, will be used in the future on the 1-Series. BMW has yet to determine whether the third-generation model, due in 2018, will be front or rear-wheel drive.

"We are looking at alternatives," a Munich insider told Autocar. "With the new platform set to support four-wheel drive, it wouldn't be that hard to use the transmission tunnel for a rear-wheel-drive application."

source: examiner

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