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BMW 1 Series Notchback & amp; 2 Series Gran Coupé: is BMW cannibalizing the next 3 Series?

Christian Schulte
BMW 1 Series Saloon & 2 Series Gran Coupé
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Do they still have all the cucumbers in their jars at auto motor und sport ? The BMW 3 Series is celebrating its 40th birthday in a glamorous way these days, and the seventh generation is already being unveiled here and is expected to celebrate its premiere at the end of 2017. Well - such a big birthday is a great occasion for a little preview of the future of the model that is still most important for the brand. After all, the 3 Series accounts for around 24 percent of sales on the home market (2014), and the a uto motor und sport readers are of the same opinion that it suits BMW best - at least 90 percent of those surveyed for the Best Cars 2015 award saw it that way.

Even more: 52 percent are convinced that the 3 Series sets the standard in its class 88 percent see it as a promise of driving pleasure on four wheels - more than any other BMW model. However, especially when it comes to agility, the current F30 series has been exposed to more frequent criticism, as the competition from Audi and Mercedes is anything but sluggishly scurrying through corners. And then that: In a comparison test by the sister magazine sport auto , a 328i had to be pulled over its ears by a Cadillac ATS. So BMW is already putting a lot of emphasis on an improved chassis with the revised 3 Series - Life Cycle Impulse, LCI for short, as it is called in Bavarian - the look is only changing marginally.

BMW 3 Series is coming in 2017 with increased dynamics

The design of the successor is of course more refreshed, and the narrow, angular headlights give it an almost aggressive note. Can any conclusions be drawn about the driving dynamics from this? At least that's what the manufacturer would like, because in this discipline the 3 Series should significantly increase the gap to the competition. The decisive factor here is that the car itself must not get bigger, and certainly not heavier.

So it grows in length by a maximum of four centimeters (then 4.66 meters), the wheelbase only increases by one centimeter 2.82 meters too. A new mix of materials has made it possible to reduce the weight of the body-in-white; in addition to aluminum and high-strength steels, BMW has also added a small amount of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). In the chassis, on the other hand, the number of aluminum components increases again, which reduces the unsprung mass - and thus agilitybenefits. The 3 Series should lose at least 70 kilograms, so it weighs just over 1.4 tons.

But that was not all. The fact that the track width has increased by a few millimeters is not one of the revolutionary measures for more dynamism, but one of the effective ones. On the other hand, more complex: steering rear wheels. So-called integral active steering can only be ordered for the 5 and 7 series models - and not in conjunction with all-wheel drive. The latter changes with the new 7 Series, and due to the increasing use of identical parts in rear-wheel drive architectures, the 3 Series also benefits from this technology.

Range of engines with slight revisions

And then there are the engines, not entirely insignificant for driving fun. BMW is well positioned here, however, with the revision of the F30 the latest derivatives of the engine kit are moving into the front apartment. That means a spectrum that ranges from the 116 hp 316d to the 326 hp 340i. And the partial switch to three-cylinder engines should also have been handled by the fans by then, especially since the units cannot be blamed for their performance. The M3 followed with a delay of around one and a half years, the jump in performance to around 480 hp creating space for an M-Performance variant, which should show the polished tailpipes of the Mercedes C 450 AMG and the Audi S4. In its home market, BMW is again anticipating the highest demand for the 320d. In any case, the now 190 hp four-cylinder diesel is now a synonym for the much-cited sheer driving pleasure - and saving, because the unit proved to be stingy even in test operations. As an Efficient Dynamics Edition, it then comes close to the 95 g /km mark for CO2 emissions.

By the way: In the reader survey, the 3 Series only ranks 67 percent in the 'Has efficient drives' category just in second place - behind the i8. In general, it can be deduced from the information provided by the participants that the image of BMW is mainly based on alternative and efficient drives and that niche products such as the X4 and the 2 Series Active Tourer do not quite fit the brand. Nevertheless, the Munich-based company is planning to further diversify the offer, wanting to 'cut the salami into even thinner slices,' as a group manager describes it. The group even risks an attack on the 3 Series from its own ranks. Spurred on by the success of the Mercedes CLA, but also by the 4 Series Gran Coupé, the product strategists are currently examining whether a 2 Series Gran Coupé could be a useful addition to the range. I beg your pardon? After the Vans Active and Gran Tourer still a front-wheel drive derivative? Not necessarily.

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé with rear-wheel drive?

Especially in the ranks of the engineers under Development Director Klaus Fröhlicha large group in favor of rear-wheel drive in the successors to the 2-series coupé and convertible, the 1-series is known to have front-wheel drive. It is not without reason that motifs from advertising campaigns for the first 1 Series are still hanging in some offices in the research and innovation center, in which the advantages of the driven rear axle were praised.

Another derivative like the Gran Coupé naturally helps with the argument, as this increases the economies of scale. The architecture with rear-wheel drive will also be used in the future by 7, 5 and 3-series models, so a corresponding degree of flexibility in terms of wheelbase and track width is guaranteed. Nevertheless, a 2 Series Gran Coupé would hardly be shorter than a 3 Series, otherwise the rear doors would make no sense. Because the 3 Series should, no, must have a more elaborate chassis and a significantly upgraded interior, the 2 Series could be priced cheaper - around 4,000 euros.

Proponents of the project argue that the 4 Series Gran Coupé is hardly possible Customers get off the 5, but rather 3-riders get on. The majority of buyers, however, over 60 percent, previously drove a third-party make. The fact that Mercedes also achieved a considerable conquest rate with the CLA - especially in the USA thanks to the low entry price - could further accelerate the decision-making process.

BMW 1 Series also in China

But this does not already apply 1er with notchback as set? Correct. The sedan is coming, based on the UKL architecture and will be aimed primarily at the Chinese market with a more conservative alignment. It is therefore likely that in addition to the X1, another 1-series derivative will roll off the assembly line in Shenyang in the future - but only for local needs. Incidentally, the BMW is competing there again with a Mercedes, because the Swabians are planning a similar model based on the next A-Class. Confusing? Well, somehow.

But so far the niche policy has worked for BMW, no matter how much some product drove over the feet of sworn fans. On the other hand, you can look forward to the next 3 Series, after all, no competitor in the middle class should be able to follow it, according to the internal objective. If the Group's niche products bring in the necessary financial resources, the strategy will work. And since there are still a few years to go before the premiere, the current generation can celebrate their milestone birthday extravagantly. auto motor und sport likes to help against the hangover with cucumbers from the jar.


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