By on December 6, 2013

BMW Active Tourer Concept

If thought of a front-driven ultimate driving machine seems like either the best thing ever or a nightmare, then BMW Sales and Marketing board member Ian Robertson has some good/bad news for you: 11 BMWs and MINIs will soon arrive in the showroom, all underpinned by the UKL1 FWD/AWD chassis.

Though the UKL1 already made its debut last month as the next iteration of the MINI, Robertson confirmed that the first BMW to wear the chassis — the Active Tourer, to be exact — will bow sometime early in 2014. He says that not only will the production version of the mini-crossover be the Bavarian’s first-ever front-driver, the Active Tourer will also sport their first-ever three-pot behind the famous kidney grill.

Regarding the 11 UKL1-based models overall (cut down from a proposed 20), eight MINI variants are expected to come down the ramp, including a Mazda MX-5 fighter and a saloon tailored for the Chinese market, as well five- and seven-seat versions of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, an SUV slotted underneath the X1, and supermini aimed at Audi’s A1.

The BMW Group as a whole has enjoyed a record year in sales, with 1.6 million total units through October 2013 heading out to the motorways of Europe. Robertson adds that his employer moves 300,000 MINIs and 200,000 1 Series annually, and is confident that the UKL1 will do just as well.

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41 Comments on “BMW to Turn FWD Up to Eleven With UKL1 Chassis...”


  • avatar
    dwford

    BMW already missed the boat with these fwd cars. Mercedes just set the standard with the CLA etc that BMWs cheap looking hatchbacks won’t be able to match.

  • avatar
    DevilsRotary86

    I don’t work in the car industry unlike others in the commentariat here, but here is how I imagine the naming section of car companies works:

    There is a monkey. That monkey is revered by the marketeers in charge of naming and is given every creature comfort imaginable and is worshiped as a deity. When it comes time to name a car the monkey is fed alphabet soup. Then it is given syrup of ipecac or something to encourage it to evacuate the soup. The marketeers then divine the new name from the regurgitation.

    I figure it’s either that or there is a 120 year old crone in each car company throwing bones across a table like in “The 13th Warrior”.

    • 0 avatar
      Type57SC

      In general, it’s a lot cheaper to advertise the brand stongly and model weakly than all the models strongly. Plus everyone benchmarked the Germans, and their numbers were originally meaningful and logical(size of car, size of engine, type of fuel or fuel injection, AWD or not)

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      It also helps that you can use numerical/letters anywhere, yet many model “names” can be country/continent specific.

      The BMW Excelsior only works in some places. 750iL works everywhere.

    • 0 avatar

      +1

      another way companies make it harder on their customers and easier on themselves. Like phone mail systems.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      BMW has numerous cars with bizarre names, the UKL is pretty tame in comparison to a few of their 3-series variants.

    • 0 avatar
      Tosh

      The awesome alpha-numerals are already taken: schweet combos like ILX, BRZ, FRS, MK-FLY, and 4Q2, all gone…
      At least Toyota and Honda have the confidence and commitment to give cars actual, long-lasting names — except when they don’t…

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    UKL1?

    Really rolls off the tongue…
    .
    .

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      UKL1 appears to be their corporate name for the chassis, which will then be applied on many different models with different names.

      Non-enthusiast customers won’t know they bought a UKL1 anymore than they would know they bought an MN12, D2C, W123, GMT360, Panther, Zeta, or W-body.

      For corporate internal usage alphanumeric platform names that communicate useful information about size, layout, etc make more sense than arbitrary Greek letters or animal names that don’t mean anything at all.

  • avatar
    Ihateusernames

    9 years ago when I last leased a new BMW (total # of BMWs my SO and I have had, both together and before we met is 8, we had GM and Porsche products as well, but had a strong BMW preference overall) I would have been all up in arms, blathering about e30 M3′s (which I have owned 0 of) and blah blah blah…

    After years of BMW producing RWD cars I am not interested in owning or leasing, it no longer bothers me that BMW will be producing FWD cars I am not interested in.

    I am a bit excited that Ford may have made the BMW coupe that I have been looking to buy for years now. I’ll see after a year of production, seeing it in person, and a test drive.

  • avatar
    johnny_5.0

    I know they want to win the luxury sales crown, but I can’t imagine them being able to fill too many other niches, or niches within niches. Ignoring the ever growing Mini lineup, they have how many CUV/SUV/wagonesque things now which are probably all reasonably suited for an “active” lifestyle?

    X1
    X3
    X5
    X6
    1 series hatch (M135i…seemingly awesome forbidden fruit)
    3 series wagon
    3 series GT
    5 series GT

    And I’m sure I missed a few, or a lot.

  • avatar
    wsn

    FWD is just a superior layout for most, if not all, car categories. BMW has finally gained some common sense. But it seems that a lot of wanna-be’s hasn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      A proper BMW shouldn’t cover most, if not all car categories. It should be one of the finest handling sports sedans on the planet. This is like a Corleani suit being made in China.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      “FWD is just a superior layout for most, if not all, car categories.”

      Completely correct.

      But BMW has not historically been in the business of covering most car categories. Sport sedans are not a good category for FWD.

      Now that it’s in the crossover business, though, there’s no real reason it shouldn’t use FWD there.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      wsn – - –

      “FWD is just a superior layout for most, if not all, car categories.”

      FWD is superior in only a minority of driving categories.
      It does not apply easily to:
      1) Sports cars;
      2) Track Cars (with race cars as a subset);
      3) Pick-up trucks (the largest selling vehicle types in America);
      4) Real SUV’s (including off-road dominant vehicles, like Jeeps)

      FWD does apply nicely to cheap family sedans and soccer-mom minivans.

      —————-

      • 0 avatar
        bufguy

        “FWD is superior in only a minority of driving categories.”

        “FWD does apply nicely to cheap family sedans and soccer-mom minivans”.

        Add crossovers and you have the majority of American cars

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    “mini-crossover be the Bavarian’s first-ever front-driver…”

    … a RWD BMW purist just died somewhere

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      Yes, died of old age. Meanwhile, 4 new customers have arrived at the dealership.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Why, when every other car maker on the planet has been making FWD cars forever to the point that everyone seems to be bored with them and long for anything RWD?

        • 0 avatar

          Remember that survey of actual BMW customers, 80% of whom were unable to tell which wheels drove the car? Seriously, you can only notice that car is RWD or FWD on a track, whereas FWD car offers significant advantages in weight and packaging. It’s all about the fuel economy and large volumes in constrained spaces, which trump the sensual driving 4 to 1 in sales.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            My guess is that 80% of everyone who owns a car doesn’t know which wheels drive it

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            >> Seriously, you can only notice that car is RWD or FWD on a track

            Snowy hills too. I have both RWD and FWD drive cars and live on a hill. The RWD drive climbs much better.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            I notice my car is RWD every time I pull away from a light and don’t have the right front wheel desparately trying to get traction.

            90 percent of people don’t know good wine from bad wine, but I dare any high end wine producer to switch its product for crap and maintain sales. The experts will leave and the masses will follow. Same with BMW.

            Caddy already tried this in the 80s.

          • 0 avatar

            I imagined it impossible for a racer never hear of torsen.

          • 0 avatar
            Zykotec

            I don’t notice that a car is fwd when I see it parked, and I’m viewing it from the rear. Oh, and going at a steady speed straight ahead it’s not really obvious either.Other than that it is very obvious, and sometimes quite annoying. In the winter fwd cars can often reverse up a hill when a rwd can’t get up, so it’s not like fwd is all bad…
            And I’ll still buy a Honda over a BMW…

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            I have a few friends that don’t even know what engines are in their cars!

            With BMW going FWD I have less purist issues and more complaints about automotive globalization in general.

          • 0 avatar
            NMGOM

            racer-esq. – - –

            NOTE: AFTER TYPING THIS, I DISCOVERED THAT “WRAP-AROUND” IS NOT WORKING WELL FOR REPLIES, SO I REPEATED THIS INFO AS A PRIMARY COMMENT FOR YOU DOWN BELOW.

            Well said: “90 percent of people don’t know good wine from bad wine, but I dare any high end wine producer to switch its product for crap and maintain sales.”

            Here are some RWD/FWD realities:

            1) Acceleration:
            Accelerate with near full power in a front-wheel drive car and you’ll quickly notice the resulting effect of rearward weight shift. The front tires will likely lose traction and spin – even on clean, dry pavement. By contrast, hard acceleration in rear-wheel drive cars increases the rear wheels’ grip on good road surfaces because of the rearward weight shift.

            2) Braking:
            Stopping ability is enhanced by the superior weight distribution of RWD. With the rear wheels carrying a greater percentage of the car’s weight load than on a front-wheel drive car, they can apply more braking force to the road and help shorten stopping distances. Since RWD contributes to even tire wear, it is more likely that tires on a RWD car will have greater tread depth. Unless tires on a FWD car are rotated religiously, the front tires may become worn and less effective in braking.

            3) Responsive Cornering:
            Near equal weight distribution helps give front and rear wheels more balanced traction. This balance gives neutral handling characteristics that make cornering maneuvers easier. Rear-wheel drive’s more equal weight distribution also aids handling agility through a lower moment of inertia. FWD cars usually have higher moments of inertia, contributing to understeer and sluggishness in cornering. As a result, RWD cars feel more responsive, lighter, and more nimble.

            4) Balanced Force Distribution:
            With FWD, both steering and propulsion forces tax the front tires’ slip- resistance during cornering. That’s part of the reason why FWD cars tend to understeer or plow forward, changing directions less quickly than the turning angle of the front wheels. Since RWD separates the tasks of cornering (front wheels) and propulsion (rear wheels), it more equally distributes the traction-threatening forces to all four wheels.

            5) Torque Steering:
            Torque steering is a negative side-effect of FWD caused by the delivery of power to the wheels that steer the car. During acceleration in a curve or from a standstill, the force of torque steering can pose a hazard by changing the direction of the front wheels unless the driver is alert and can exert counteractive force on the steering wheel. RWD does not exhibit torque effect because the engine is isolated from the steering gear.

            6) Longer Wheelbase:
            RWD allows a longer wheelbase and a more forward positioning of the front wheels. The longer wheelbase provides better handling while the forward position of the wheels reduces the possibility of the front spoiler scraping on dips.

            7) No CV Joints:
            FWD cars have four CV (constant velocity) joints connecting the engine to the front wheels. In comparison, RWD cars use universal joints which wear out much slower than CV joints.

            SUMMARY – - – - – - –

            RWD pros:
            Fore-aft weight distribution more balanced. Braking performance enhanced. Tire wear more even. Cornering easier, more responsive. Lighter than AWD configuration for better acceleration and cornering performance and better fuel-efficiency. Better hard acceleration performance on good surfaces than with FWD. Better cornering ability because steering and propulsion are applied at separate axles. Greater agility because of lower resistance to changes in direction (lower moment of inertia). Longer wheelbase for smoother ride. Absence of torque steering effect common with FWD. No CV joints to replace.

            FWD pros:
            Good traction during mild acceleration on slippery surfaces. Lighter weight helps fuel-efficiency. Interior room enhanced by lack of longitudinal driveshaft. Less expensive to manufacture.

            —————————-

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Excellent post NMGOM! I suspect this is the only point zee Germans are concerned with: “Less expensive to manufacture.”

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    I’ve owned/driven/built/modified/etc many, many BMWs. I love and prefer RWD (and manual transmissions), but I also don’t hate on BMW for branching out into FWD (don’t get me started on curb weight, though).

    I do however take offense to trolls who come in every BMW thread and suggest that me and anyone like me is nothing more than a brand whore because we like BMWs. Where do you live, that only clueless people go for the blue & white propeller?

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Alternatively BMW deems the new chassis worthy… This is a good thing.

  • avatar

    I agree most buyers would accept that little blue guys propel the car. The enthusiast enjoys both FWD and RWD, but they require different styles. I’ve had from 455 US muscle to the finest of euro fwd…

    Having said that, BMW is rear drive. From the 1 to the 7, the back pushes the car. This is because if you split the jobs you get more overall. FWD is cheaper to make and is a better choice for a know-nothing, but BMW is NOT FWD….

    I love the Minis I have driven. FWD does not suck, but BMW is RWD.

    I even saw a CLA today on the road….MB also is RWD, but whatever….

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I am not a bummer guy at all to many as holes drive them but at the end of the day 95 percent of the people do not care about red or fwd they just want a nice ride and some cool car so I can not blame BMW for giving them what they want

  • avatar
    mypoint02

    Meh. I don’t care if they sell a FWD 1 series Active Tourer or whatever they want to call it.

    Now if they decide to switch to FWD on the 3 or 5 series sedans, then I’ll really be pissed.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    racer-esq. – - –

    Well said: “90 percent of people don’t know good wine from bad wine, but I dare any high end wine producer to switch its product for crap and maintain sales.”

    Here are some RWD/FWD realities:

    1) Acceleration:
    Accelerate with near full power in a front-wheel drive car and you’ll quickly notice the resulting effect of rearward weight shift. The front tires will likely lose traction and spin – even on clean, dry pavement. By contrast, hard acceleration in rear-wheel drive cars increases the rear wheels’ grip on good road surfaces because of the rearward weight shift.

    2) Braking:
    Stopping ability is enhanced by the superior weight distribution of RWD. With the rear wheels carrying a greater percentage of the car’s weight load than on a front-wheel drive car, they can apply more braking force to the road and help shorten stopping distances. Since RWD contributes to even tire wear, it is more likely that tires on a RWD car will have greater tread depth. Unless tires on a FWD car are rotated religiously, the front tires may become worn and less effective in braking.

    3) Responsive Cornering:
    Near equal weight distribution helps give front and rear wheels more balanced traction. This balance gives neutral handling characteristics that make cornering maneuvers easier. Rear-wheel drive’s more equal weight distribution also aids handling agility through a lower moment of inertia. FWD cars usually have higher moments of inertia, contributing to understeer and sluggishness in cornering. As a result, RWD cars feel more responsive, lighter, and more nimble.

    4) Balanced Force Distribution:
    With FWD, both steering and propulsion forces tax the front tires’ slip- resistance during cornering. That’s part of the reason why FWD cars tend to understeer or plow forward, changing directions less quickly than the turning angle of the front wheels. Since RWD separates the tasks of cornering (front wheels) and propulsion (rear wheels), it more equally distributes the traction-threatening forces to all four wheels.

    5) Torque Steering:
    Torque steering is a negative side-effect of FWD caused by the delivery of power to the wheels that steer the car. During acceleration in a curve or from a standstill, the force of torque steering can pose a hazard by changing the direction of the front wheels unless the driver is alert and can exert counteractive force on the steering wheel. RWD does not exhibit torque effect because the engine is isolated from the steering gear.

    6) Longer Wheelbase:
    RWD allows a longer wheelbase and a more forward positioning of the front wheels. The longer wheelbase provides better handling while the forward position of the wheels reduces the possibility of the front spoiler scraping on dips.

    7) No CV Joints:
    FWD cars have four CV (constant velocity) joints connecting the engine to the front wheels. In comparison, RWD cars use universal joints which wear out much slower than CV joints.

    SUMMARY – - – - – - –

    RWD pros:
    Fore-aft weight distribution more balanced. Braking performance enhanced. Tire wear more even. Cornering easier, more responsive. Lighter than AWD configuration for better acceleration and cornering performance and better fuel-efficiency. Better hard acceleration performance on good surfaces than with FWD. Better cornering ability because steering and propulsion are applied at separate axles. Greater agility because of lower resistance to changes in direction (lower moment of inertia). Longer wheelbase for smoother ride. Absence of torque steering effect common with FWD. No CV joints to replace.

    FWD pros:
    Good traction during mild acceleration on slippery surfaces. Lighter weight helps fuel-efficiency. Interior room enhanced by lack of longitudinal driveshaft. Less expensive to manufacture.

    —————————-

  • avatar
    Jethrow

    If you want a good FWD sedan, buy a Kia or a Hyundai. If you want something good to drive, then perhaps BMW can help.

    To me that is their core. Pure driving and all that. And in a world where the RWD sedan is in danger of becoming extinct, I do not understand BMW’s obsession with making a me too product.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    It just sounds to me like the UKL1 platform is for building to a price so as to penetrate new global markets that can’t sustain sales and profit margins of the RWD cars.


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