Here is a bit of a mystery concept from BMW: the 2015 Concept Compact Sedan.
Debuting at the Guangzhou auto show in China this week, the Concept CS is not mysterious about its production intent. One look inside the cabin of even the renders shows that this car is nearly finalized already, and likely to be in some global Bimmer showrooms by the end of calendar 2016.
From there, things line up with logical powertrains in 120i, 128i and 135i, mirroring the two-door 235i, etc. Pricing for the eventual 1 series is likely to start at about $25k, at least $7k less than the cheapest 3 series these days.
But then things get slightly murky. Will this car be rear-wheel-drive with optional xDrive for the front wheels, or visa versa?
After initially getting a rear-drive impression from the expected product plans, we are now fairly sure the Concept CS is front-drive, with available AWD for the back axle.
We spectulate and analyze this below, but a good caveat is that the chances of the Compact Sedan being rear-drive vs front-drive is 50/50.
Reasons for predicting FWD for this concept:
— the front overhang is quite pronounced versus the BMW ideal of nearly no front bumper length. Even so, the production-intent nose of this Concept CS is likely to also tease the overdue 5 series redesign, now likely for 2017.
— BMW touts the roominess of the back seat and overall cabin. Despite being a 2+2, the China-focused model stresses the comfiness and tech controls for backseaters — a slightly unusual pitch for what will be BMW’s smallest-ever model. Typically, front-drive cars can have much roomier back seats and trunks than RWD sedans. BMW has often noted this fact when exploring a sub-3-series sedan abstractly over the last few years.
So where would a front-drive platform originate, and is it likely to be global like the 2-series coupe, or regional like the 128i Active Tourer — a microvan sold in Europe with front-drive and very utilitarian looks versus the BMW longhood look.
Where can BMW find a production-ready platform with front-drive packaging, global crash safety and the latest turbo powertrains?
The new UKL platform under the turbo triple MINI Cooper as standard can also accomodate a four-cylinder version of these next-gen engines. And, not coincidentally, xDrive AWD. This four-paw traction is likely to be standard on the larger engine options, like the 300-plus-HP 135i or eventual (but highly unlikely M1).
The strategy in having a front-drive 1 series for sale alongside a rear-drive 2 series makes sense, even if it is slightly confusing at first.
Compact sedan shoppers are thrilled to be able to consider a BMW, and are willing to overlook the lack of RWD purity. See the Audi A3 for example, very few of which are selling with Quattro or the uplevel engines.
Eager for more details and a production version of this exciting new BMW Concept CS, regardless of its drivetrain layout!
Guangzhou live photo credit: Autocar
2015 BMW Concept Compact Sedan
Munich/Guangzhou. The BMW Group has chosen Auto Guangzhou 2015, one of the largest international motor shows in China, to present a very special new development to the global public: the company’s vision of a four-door sedan for the compact segment. “The BMW Concept Compact Sedan reveals the potential we see in a compact sedan,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design. “It not only gives the driver and passengers generous amounts of space within a compact area but does so while providing the sporting ability you’d expect from BMW and an elegance otherwise only available in large BMW sedans. The quality and intrinsic value of the BMW Concept Compact Sedan are clear signals of our premium intentions for the car.”
The car for a new generation.
As great growth potential can be seen in the Chinese premium compact market, BMW has conducted in-depth observation and research for the segment’s development trends and target customers. The BMW Concept Compact Sedan represents the approach to life of a generation of youth in China. These potential customers are confident, dynamic and extremely quality-conscious and have a feel for aesthetics. “The characterful design of the BMW Concept Compact Sedan embodies the driving pleasure offered by a sporting car with minimised exterior dimensions. It is as distinctive as it is essential – and, as such, it injects new life into the compact segment. This four-door sedan stands for everything that sets BMW apart,” explains Karim Habib, Head of Design BMW Automobiles.
Fitting the BMW template from every angle – the exterior design.
The compact and agile exterior of the BMW Concept Compact Sedan creates a familiar sedan silhouette based around a striking three-box design. Hallmark BMW proportions imbue the car with a dynamic allure unrivalled in its segment. Its sweeping bonnet and long wheelbase stretch the car visually, while the slightly set-back greenhouse further underlines its sporting nature. The clever use of time-honoured BMW elements, such as a long, prominent swage line, dynamic Hofmeister kink and surfaces moulded with impressive depth, ensures the car cuts an athletic figure from the side and highlights its relationship with other BMW vehicles. The four doors are integrated harmoniously into its proportions and allow easy entry for the driver and all passengers. Discreet soft-touch handles below the swage line open the doors as soon as a finger touches their metal surface.
Powerful interplay of surfaces.
Precise edges and contours form dynamically chiseled surfaces, reflecting an assured interplay between light and shade that lends sculptural depth to the flanks of the car and conjures images of tensed muscles. The flared wheel arches rise out clearly from the body as it tapers in towards the road and further strengthen the impression of athletic intent. The exclusive exterior paint shade Liquid Metal Bronze adheres to the surfaces of the body like cast metal. The fine pigments in the paint shift between light and dark depending on the incidence of light, showcasing the car’s attention-grabbing design language to maximum effect. The window surrounds and the weather strip-style exterior mirror stalks in polished aluminum are a classy flourish, while the exclusive 20-inch light-alloy wheels in intricate double-spoke design form a visual highlight with their bi-color design and set the seal on the side view.
Front and rear ends exude undiluted dynamic allure.
The designers have emphasized the width of the slim front end and ensured it picks up the sporting baton from the car’s flanks. Its signature kidney grille and eye-catching twin circular headlights instantly identify the BMW Concept Compact Sedan as a BMW. The familiar form of the kidneys and their size convey the car’s distinctive character: a seamless fusion of agility, sportiness and elegance. The hexagonal, dynamically “sawn-off” twin circular LED headlights on either side point inwards towards the kidney grille, creating a visual link between the kidneys and headlights that lends the car a purposeful look. The V-shaped central air intake is the starting point for a pervading design theme which splits the lower section of the front end into three sections and gives it a broader appearance. Surfaces merging into one another and stacked in different layers, and the interplay of those levels, lend extra depth and dynamism to the design.
Like the front end, the horizontally structured rear also makes a clear sporting statement. Lateral lines and a vibrant interplay of horizontal light and shadowed surfaces accentuate the width of the rear end and at the same time make the car look lower. The slim, elongated string of rear lights, with their prominent L shape, take this process a step further. An LED light element in the shape of an “L” inside the lights makes the characteristic light contours visible at night as well. The confidently sculpted rear apron reduces the gap between road and rear end, while a chrome insert that widens towards the outer edges of the rear apron adds a classy accent.
Sporty lightness and modern exclusivity – the interior.
Glance into the interior of the BMW Concept Compact Sedan and its BMW family ties are immediately evident. The cockpit radiates a clear driver focus: all the lines, forms and controls are geared towards the person behind the wheel and their needs. This is highlighted by the prominent lines that converge in the direction of travel either side of the steering wheel. The resultant “cone of vision” sets the tone for the driver’s area as a whole. The form of the horizontal, nozzle-shaped air vents and their internal structure continue the theme. The “cone of vision” tapers into a Head-Up Display with combiner screen, which projects all the relevant information into the driver’s direct field of view.
Elongated horizontal lines and surfaces creating a generous feeling of space provide a counterpoint to the cabin’s driver focus and sporty styling. For example, the instrument panel on the front passenger side extends into the doors in an elegant, horizontal movement, creating an inviting ambience for passengers. Exclusive Nappa leather, open-pored wood and brushed aluminium form an attractive triad of materials spreading across the whole of the instrument panel, whose leather-covered top surface with contrast stitching is a feature normally the preserve of luxury sedans. An unbroken insert in polished aluminium provides for a classy surround for the instrument panel, while orange-coloured contour lighting further accentuates its character-defining contours at night.
The doors’ design picks up the instrument panel’s horizontal lines and extends them into the flanks of the car in a dynamic sweep. The front door, for example, extends visually into the B-pillar and makes the interior feel bigger. Indeed, the cabin offers an unaccustomed level of space and openness for a car in this class. The sporty seats, which in the rear suggest two individual seats, further enhance this impression. Covered in naturally soft Nappa leather in warm Ivory and Grey Brown, as well as Muted Brown, they offer unbeatable comfort. Accents in Velocity Tulip – a snug shade of orange – underline the sporting geometry of the seats, which take their cue from racing buckets and accentuate the sporty character of the vehicle while at the same time meeting the comfort requirements of a premium vehicle. Beyond this, the large panoramic roof floods the interior with natural light and extends the space above the passengers’ heads to underline the generous feeling of roominess.
All the technical features of the BMW Concept Compact Sedan are integrated into its interior design with polish and refinement. Mechanical operating elements modeled to flawless ergonomic effect – such as the climate system controls, gearshift lever and iDrive system – extend from the super-smooth surfaces. All the other functions on the steering wheel, centre stack, centre console and door openers are operated using backlit touch-sensitive surfaces, whose high-gloss black surfaces provide a highly exclusive interior ambience when switched off. In addition, a “combiner” Head-Up Display and 8.8-inch screen in the central information display contain all the information required at any one time.
Generously-sized rear compartment.
The rear compartment of the BMW Concept Compact Sedan vividly reflects the importance attached to passenger comfort. Despite the car’s compact dimensions, the rear – which is designed to accommodate two people – welcomes its passengers with a bright and expansive feeling of space. Its exclusive materials, high-quality workmanship and warm Ivory and Muted Brown tones, backed up by accents in Velocity Tulip, create an inviting ambience. Visually, the rear bench suggests two individual seats and offers passengers ample space in which to spread out. At the same time, its form sees the sporting flavour of the front seats spilling over into the rear. The panoramic roof, which extends a long way back, and the ivory-coloured roof liner ensure the second row of seats is likewise bathed in a light and almost airy sensation of space. At night, the contour lighting extending into the doors accentuates the function islands of touch-control door openers, touch-sensitive window controls and loudspeakers. A separate climate control unit in the rear-facing surface of the centre console adds the finishing touches to the high-comfort rear accommodation.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.