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The FWD BMWs Are Coming…

September 14, 2012 by Matt

BMW Concept Active Tourer FWD Brown EV Electric Car Hybrid Plug In

I can hear the PR spin now: “It’s just a concept. And it’s a hybrid. No relationship to our performance models whatsoever! Nothing to see here… Move along.”

This is how it begins, with an innocent “broadening of the product line” to compete effectively in more market segments, in the case of the BMW “Concept Active Tourer” (shown above) the burgeoning small crossover niche. And I predict, after a production version is released, a conventional non-hybrid powertrain will be offered alongside the hybrid. And slowly, gradually, that engine and chassis will underpin a new class of compact BMWs, a 1-series replacement perhaps. And with that, one of the automaker’s core principles will be compromised.

Yes, as established in my post last year on the matter, I’m well aware BMW is already responsible for the development of a FWD car in the Mini—and a good one at that—but the BMW brand itself, the car with the unmistakable double kidney grille, has remained untarnished by the inevitable dynamic compromises that come with a FWD layout. There’s simply no way to make a FWD car feel like a RWD car, and the qualities inherent in the latter have always been essential to the “BMW feel.” So again, its the Bavarian automaker’s prerogative to slap a blue and white roundel on whatever they want, but a spade can’t be made a heart, and any salesperson from the company claiming that a new FWD car “still has the same feel” as one of their classics is, well, selling something. Interested to see how this plays out.

Filed under: BMW, News


  1. Mike B. says:

    The sad thing is that they will sell like hotcakes simply because it is a BMW. Heck, many mainstream people will like the FWD because it is “better in snow”, etc.

    The reasons BMW was so special seem to be disappearing.

  2. John D says:

    Over time all products tend toward homogenization. I’m kind of surprised that BMW has stuck to it’s roots for so long…but it’s difficult for them not to participate in mainstream market trends. When it comes right down to it, it’s the people in control and who stand to profit that call the shots. It would be difficult for anyone to consciously make decisions that knowing leave market share intentionally uncaptured, especially when that money goes straight into your pocket. I hate to see it happen, but that’s kind of the way of things. Fortunately that always leaves room for someone else to step in and fill the niche that the entity going mainstream left behind…

    • Matt says:

      Yeah, I know. Either they “expand” or get left behind by the other automakers… ‘Tis the way of business, I suppose. But for a company so self-consciously “going green” and intentionally taking the time and expense to make more of their cars out of more expensive recyclable materials, you’d think the braintrust over there would be able to lock themselves in a conference room and not come out until they’d charted a path forward wherein they could have their cake and eat it too—capture more market share but not throw out the essentials. Ah well.

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