BMW to Turn FWD Up to Eleven With UKL1 Chassis

TTAC Staff
by TTAC Staff
bmw to turn fwd up to eleven with ukl1 chassis

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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  • Mypoint02 Mypoint02 on Dec 07, 2013

    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.

  • NMGOM NMGOM on Dec 07, 2013

    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. ----------------------------

  • Jethrow Jethrow on Dec 08, 2013

    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.

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Dec 08, 2013

    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.