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BMW to debut FWD 1-Series GT in Paris?

by Ronan Glon

The 1-Series GT will compete against the Mercedes-Benz B-Class.

A report from England indicates that BMW will unveil the entry-level 1-Series GT as a thinly-disguised concept at the Paris Motor Show that will open its doors late next month.

Riding on the same newly-developed UKL platform as the next-generation MINI hatchback, the 1-Series GT will be the Munich-based automaker's first front-wheel drive model. It will be taller than both the MINI and the standard rear-drive 1-Series and it will compete in the same arena as the Mercedes-Benz B-Class.

The 1-Series GT will be powered by an all-new 1.5-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine that is essentially a 3.0 straight-six that has been chopped in half. The car will also be available with four-cylinder gas engines as well as several turbodiesels, but don't expect to see a sport-oriented M version of it.

However, the 1-Series GT will be more powerful than the MINI that it will share its platform with. All engines will make a minimum of 100 horsepower.

Power will be sent to the front wheels via either a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic. An all-wheel drive version is not currently in the works.

Although purists will undoubtedly balk at the idea of a front-wheel drive BMW, the 1-Series GT's target audience is not expected to have an issue with the new layout. In fact, in a study conducted in 2010 BMW found that 80 percent of 1-Series owners were convinced that the car was front-wheel drive.

BMW does not seem to be worried about the loss in driving dynamics that switching to front-wheel drive might trigger.

"We have a lot of experience. We know how to make the car turn-in sharply to corners and we know how to tune the steering so that there isn't much torque steer," said Dr. Klaus Draeger, a BMW board member, in an interview with Auto Express.

More details about the 1-Series GT will be available in the weeks leading up to the Paris show.

Photo by Mark Elias.