BMW has released more technical details on its first front-wheel drive 1 Series, due for release later this year.
The third-generation 1 Series is a radical departure on the brand’s product evolution, foregoing BMW’s vaunted rear-wheel-drive architecture for a more spacious cabin environment. With the switch from rear- to front-wheel-drive, BMW has gained 33 mm of rear legroom for passengers and increased the luggage capacity from 360- to 380-litres.
In terms of engines, the new BMW M135i will lose its 6-cylinder engine and make do with a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder motor. BMW claims it will have 225 kW, which is a tad down on the BMW M140i - the current flagship.
BMW promises that its new 1 Series won’t drive like a conventional front-wheel-drive hatchback, thanks to clever traction control technology first seen on the brand’s i3 electric vehicle. It’s called ARB (actuator contiguous wheel slip limitation) and works to quell that feeling of heavy and slightly tardy stability/traction control intervention, something which afflicts many front-wheel-drive cars when driven at the limit.
By coordinating the 1 Series traction- and dynamic stability control functions within the engine control unit computer, instead of at the wheels, BMW’s engineers have reduced the signal pathways. That might sound slightly obsessive, but BMW says that with the traction control unit homed within the engine’s computer control module, wheel slip information is relayed three times faster due to better data harvesting. During final validation testing on the new 1 Series, drivers perceived the system as reacting ten times faster to power-on understeer.
Beyond the ARB system, a stiffer bodyshell and reinforced rear strut system should help new 1 Series retain its dynamic posture. The new 1 Series will test just how loyal its fanbase is to the rear-driven architecture of its cars. Beyond the Mini sub-brand, this will be BMW's first foray into front-driven mass-produced cars and id its a success, could likely creep its way into other models.