BMW has finally launched its first front-wheel drive car, driven by a transverse-mounted three-cylinder engine. Lest brand purists start tearing up their twin kidneys in horror, BMW promises that the compact hatchback will retain much of the driving characteristics of its sportier, rear-wheel drive brethren.
The new car clocks in at 4342mm long, 1800mm wide and 1555mm in height, making it only slightly longer than a 1 Series. Styling cues include short overhangs, long wheelbase, wedge profile, L-shaped rear lights and prominent creases on the sides aligning with the door handles. The wide tailgate features neat cues such as a rear wiper hidden in the roof-mounted spoiler. A large greenhouse includes a triangular window at the A-pillar.
The interior reportedly features a high seating position, comfortable seating for five, three-way split rear seats, and flat-floor trunk space that can expand from 468 to 1510 liters. The rear seat can also slide forward to give more room to luggage. A “kick to open” feature is available for the tailgate.
BMW promises steering and handling tuned to mimic its rear-wheel drive brethren. The 2670mm-long wheelbase and stiff chassis should help in this respect. Front suspension uses struts while the rear uses a multi-link setup.
Powering the 2 Series is a three-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine, producing 136 and 220 Nm, good for 0-100 of 9.3 seconds and 198kph top speed. A four-cylinder diesel will also be available, with 150hp and 330Nm, cutting 0-100 to 8.9 seconds, and marginally increasing top speed to 203kph. Other power units will include a power-up engine in the 225i, a 216d, and a 220d with all-wheel drive.
Electronic features will include heads-up display, auto-steer parking, auto-braking, and LED headlamps.
The 2 series is the closest BMW has come to producing an MPV, and from the looks of it, the company could do very well in that category.
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