What's Wrong With This Picture: The Ultimate Driving… Van? Edition

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Which European automaker is working on this compact, front-drive MPV? It might look like a VW or Opel, but in fact it’s coming from the Roundel itself. BMW will release this five-seat, start-stop-equipped van sometime in 2014, giving its Euro-market customers an alternative to Mercedes’s B-Class van. But because this is still a BMW, a two-liter turbo engine option will be offered, giving this otherwise humble little MPV a 245 HP kick. Still, this will be the most prosaic offering from a firm built around rear drive and six-cylinder engines. And though Mercedes is bringing at least one front-drive model to the US market, expect BMW to maintain its premium positioning here by keeping this MPV in the European market, where such efficient vehicles are not seen as being incompatible with a luxury brand.

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  • Wallstreet Wallstreet on Nov 27, 2011

    It reminds me of their upcoming i3.

  • Daveainchina Daveainchina on Nov 27, 2011

    And of course the vehicles I'm really interested in. Small, fuel friendly, but roomy family haulers are yet again not brought to the USA.

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    • Wallstreet Wallstreet on Nov 27, 2011

      @Syke I'll be happy if BMW will bring either 120d hatch, 320d estate or 520d estate across the pond.

  • MrWhopee MrWhopee on Nov 27, 2011

    I wonder why premium German automakers are so enthusiastic about these kind of utilitarian hatchbacks, sure they were the biggest market segments in Europe, but how many buyers of BMW, Mercedes, etc. are looking for this kind of vehicle anyway? The Mercedes A and B class weren't exactly a huge hit in the marketplace. Especially since they're front wheel drive and have cheaper interior to match their price, it don't really feel like Mercedes at all, and not that much different than other vehicles in its class. Nor does it looks like Mercedes (being a stubby hatchback), so I doubt people will think of you as loaded by owning one of those.

    • See 2 previous
    • Svenmeier Svenmeier on Nov 29, 2011

      @th009 The Audi A1 is not a huge hit in Europe. In fact Audi can't seem to sell them at all. It baffles me how they came to the decision to release a 4-door A1 for 2012.

  • JJ JJ on Nov 28, 2011
    expect BMW to maintain its premium positioning here by keeping this MPV in the European market, where such efficient vehicles are not seen as being incompatible with a luxury brand. Meh...Somewhat true but not completely. This statement may hold true for the 1 series hatch and 3/5 series equipped with lowly (diesel) 4-bangers, but there are limits. Those vehicles mentioned still offer 'premium' BMW characteristics like RWD and the resulting steering feel (or nowadays with electric power steering let's say driving dynamics). At the point where you're building a top heavy FWD minivan however, that may be several bridges too far even for the most avid badge snobs. As mentioned by MrWhopee Mercedes tried something similar with the A and B and didn't exactly set the sales charts on fire. For BMW it's even more of a departure from their core brand values so even if they sell a handful of them I think this is a mistake.

    • Svenmeier Svenmeier on Nov 29, 2011

      The people who bought a Mercedes A or B class could care less which wheels were being driven by the engine. In many wealthy European areas you will see the rich and famous driving a Mercedes A/B class to their home where an E class or S class or an SL is already sitting in the garage. Think of these cars as the "city cars" of these people. They're small which means finding and parking in a suitable parking space in a crowded European city will be easier. These cars were popular (and still) are because they're comfortable, spacious, well-made, reliable and are offered with a variety of efficient or powerful engine choices designed to meet the needs of many. And I don't see how "FWD is not luxury". There have been many great FWD luxury cars like the Cords of the 1930s, the Citroen Traction Avant/DS/SM, Oldsmobile Toronado, Cadillac Eldorado, NSU Ro-80, various Audis throughout the '70s and '80s. FWD in no way means a car isn't a luxury car. Most people buying a luxury could care less about FWD/RWD. Only the so-called "enthusiasts" whine about it and then only because of silly little things like the "Oh I can't do a proper burnout with a FWD car" / "1/4 mile race" mentality.