This is an engineering mule for the next-generation BMW 1 Series, snapped testing for the first time.
The new 1 Series (internally dubbed F20) arrives in mid-2011, sticks with rear-wheel drive, and will offer engines from a 1.3-litre four-pot all the way up to a 300bhp hardcore flagship.
There will be both four- and six-cylinder power units – the demand for the smooth six-cylinder engines in the current coupé and cabriolet having convinced BMW to keep the big engines and, crucially, the rear-wheel drive layout. Engineers had looked at making the new 1 Series front-wheel drive, twinning it with the Mini to reduce costs.
New to the range will be a downsized 1.3-litre turbo petrol four-cylinder that’ll power the 116i and 118i.
There’ll also be a turbocharged 2.0-litre and the 3.0-litre straight-six. Diesel power will also come from a 2.0-litre four-pot, with one or two turbos.
Six-speed manuals and twin-clutch automatics will send the power rearwards.
The full engine line-up will be – petrol: 116i 136bhp, 118i 184bhp, 120i 218bhp, 130i – 272bhp and diesel: 118d 150bhp, 120d 184bhp and 123d 211bhp.