The Truth About Cars » front-drive The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 20:45:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » front-drive BMW Set To Reveal First Front Wheel Drive Model At Geneva, 2-Series Active Tourer Fri, 14 Feb 2014 17:35:47 +0000 bmw-2-series-active-tourer-05

BMW’s first front wheel drive Ultimate Driving Minivan Machine is set to debut at Geneva next month. It rides on the BMW Group’s new UKL platform, which is also the same platform for Mini’s third generation Cooper and the next generation BMW X1. The top engine in the 225i is said to be a 231 horse power 2.0L turbo four cylinder, while a diesel powered 218d is optional; and power is routed though a standard six speed manual (yay) or automatic transmission for all engines.

The 2-Series moniker comes from its larger size and price over the 1-Series variants sold overseas.

The European model will go on sale soon after the Geneva debut to fight against other popular MPVs, such as the Mercedes Benz B-Class, Ford B-Max, Seat Alhambra, VW Touran, and Fiat 500L. We will not see the 2-Series Active Tourer until Stateside until 2015, where it will be a niche player in an essentially untapped segment.

Styling can be best described as the BMW of minivans, but is pleasant and well proportioned, keeping the family resemblance strong. Front overhang is minimal, and over all exterior dimensions are tidy at 170.9 inches in length, 61.4 inches tall, and 70.9 inches wide, and with a wheel base of 105.1 inches; aiming square at the Mercedes Benz B-Class. Interior room is said to be enough to seat five comfortably, and is highly configurable with not only a flat-folding rear seat, but front seat as well.

An all wheel drive model is expected to arrive later this year, as well. A future M-Sport package and hybrid model are in the pipeline as well.

The 2-Series is a big step in BMW product, expanding beyond what is typically defined as BMW’s idea of the Ultimate Driving Machine. But with the success of their X-series models, who can fault BMW for wanting to bring their vision to the MPV market?

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Editorial: The Ultimate Touring Machine Fri, 29 Nov 2013 14:00:36 +0000 550x403xbmwrabbit-550x403.jpg.pagespeed.ic.E4xoO7LgdX

Buried in an article about the East-West schism between wagons and BMW’s ungainly Gran Turismo series of pseudo-crossovers was a bit of news destined to horrify the BMW diehards that represent a slim but vocal minority of its customer base. Despite indications that it would not be appearing on our shores, BMW will in fact be launching a front-drive car in North America, as per Automotive News Europe

Next year, BMW will add a minivan-styled compact model targeted at young families, sports enthusiasts who need space for their equipment and older buyers who like cars that are easy to get in and out of and have a high seating position. The minivan will be based on the Active Tourer concept and is set to debut in production guise at the Geneva auto show in March. Most likely it will be called the 2-series Active Tourer. It will be underpinned by BMW’s new UKL front-wheel-drive architecture that debuted this week on the third-generation Mini.

The two readers who regularly follow my byline (hi, Mom and Dad) will recall that just months ago, I penned an editorial defending BMW’s move towards front-wheel drive platforms. I still stand by that opinion, and the choice to do front-wheel drive is a rational one for BMW.

Having spent untold sums (likely billions) developing the front-drive UKL architecture, BMW needs to amortize the costs somehow. And with profitability and scale requirements being what they are in a highly competitive, globalized marketplace, BMW cannot confine UKL to the MINI brand alone.

Transverse, front-drive layouts make a lot of sense in terms of packaging and interior space. A car like the 1-Series is a prime candidate for this layout – in Europe, where it’s offered as a hatchback as well as a coupe, the north-south engine layout and rear-drive running gear eats up passenger and trunk space. And with the small, sporty coupe now being sold as the 2-Series, there is room for the 1-Series to become a front-drive, entry-level BMW that can compete with everything from the Ford Focus to the Volkswagen Golf to the Mercedes-Benz CLA. Ford, in particular, must be running scared at the prospect of a C-Segment BMW that will have a higher end (and comparably more profitable) Focus Titanium or Vignale in its sights.

But being a car enthusiast is not about the rational, the sensible or the profit and loss statement. I spend far too much time in these virtual pages wearing that particular hat. If you’d be so kind as to indulge me for a second, I’m going to remove it as I step up on to the soapbox.

*Begin rant*

Reading the description of the ActiveTourer, instantly conjures up two of the most noxious words in our modern lexicon: “lifestyle” and “brand”. Lifestyle, because this is clearly a “lifestyle” vehicle, targeted at people who like “outdoor” activities, young families who prioritize car seats over sports seats and older buyers who are looking for an easy ingress/egress.

I don’t begrudge any of these types. I like to get some fresh air once in a while, I hope to be blessed with a family at some point in the near (but not too near) future, and inevitably, I will grow old. I have watched my parents migrate from sedans to crossovers as they have gotten older, and my grandmother finds it much easier to get in and out of the Fit in the local Honda dealer than her 2000 Civic.

I’m even willing to concede that front-wheel drive is hardly an impediment to driving purity or outright performance. Look at a Volkswagen GTI or a Fiesta ST if you need proof. But the ActiveTourer’s stated mission flies in the face of that. This vehicle seems to represent the denouement for BMW’s journey from The Ultimate Driving Machine to The Ultimate Lifestyle Brand That Once Made Interesting Vehicles.

Click here to view the embedded video.

*End rant*

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Why BMW Needs To Do Front-Drive Cars Thu, 22 Nov 2012 14:00:27 +0000

For many of the brand’s faithful, a front-driver BMW is a revolting prospect. It’s the four-wheeled equivalent of tofu-based bacon or a cigarette without nicotine. But BMW is banking on small cars in a big way – their new front drive architecture, dubbed UKL, will underpin as many as 12 front-drive products from BMW and Mini. And frankly, not doing a front-drive range would be a display of poor judgement on the part of management.

Lest anyone accuse me of apostasy, let’s look at the facts. Mercedes-Benz did a front-drive platform and survived. Audi is making some of the most significant advancements in modern automobile production with the new A3 which uses – you guessed it – the front-drive MQB platform. Both of these auto makers have BMW squarely in the sights. They want to overtake BMW as the number one premium auto maker, and they can easily do it – unless BMW builds a front-drive car of their own.

Notice how the front-drivers from Mercedes and Audi are all compact hatchbacks while the serious stuff, the models we all know and love, use longitudinal layouts and rear or all-wheel drive? That’s not going to change any time soon at those two companies or BMW. All three of them are smart enough to know that their core vehicles need to retain this layout for a number of reasons.

But the post-recession era has seen a whole new segment of luxury vehicles pop up; the premium small car. Many are tempted to write off cars like the Mini, the Fiat 500 and the Opel Adam as limp-wristed compacts for self-concious urbanites who wouldn’t dare condescend to a mainstream economy car. In many parts of the world, it’s not just strivers who buy these cars, but financially secure (and even the truly wealthy) consumers who don’t want or need a larger car. Parking, vehicle taxes, fuel consumption, emissions and other factors can all be taken into account as well, but sales of these cars are on the rise and BMW wants a piece of the action. And it doesn’t look like it will be so terrible. European media have already driven powertrain mules of the new 3-cylinder engine set to be used in the UKL cars. How does a 221-horsepower turbocharged three-banger sound?

The only way to build any kind of car these days is maximize the economies of scale. The development of a new car costs billions, and the best way to amortize this is to do what Volkswagen did – build everything from the Polo to the next-generation Passat on one modular architecture. Ironically, Volkswagen took their cues from BMW, who had a “1.0″ version of the modular platform in effect with the 3-Series and 5-Series.

For BMW to make the investment in an all-new architecture worthwhile, they’re going to have to spread UKL around as much as possible – that means a new 1-Series with sedan, coupe, convertible, hatchback and crossover variants (1-Series GT anyone?), as well as a new MINI and all the variants that entails. This is the kind of thing that makes “enthusiasts” (of the sort with very narrow definitions of what a car should be) roll their eyes, but for better or worse, this is the way things are done in the automotive world these days. And if BMW’s projections are correct, you better get used to it real fast – an interview with Automotive News has one BMW exec stating that UKL vehicles are expected to account for 40 percent of BMW Group’s global sales within a decade.



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