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Guangzhou show: BMW outs China-only 1 Series Sedan

1-off: The production-ready BMW 1 Series Sedan was unveiled at the Guangzhou show in China, a year after it was previewed by the Concept Compact Sedan, also at Guangzhou.

Booted 1 Series is first front-drive four-door BMW, but not for sale outside China

21 Nov 2016

BMW has unveiled a production-ready competitor to the Audi A3 sedan and Mercedes-Benz CLA, but the company describes it as “an exclusive model tailored and aligned to the needs of Chinese customers, solely produced and specifically sold in China”.

The 1 Series Sedan, revealed at the Guangzhou motor show in southern China over the weekend, is based on the front-wheel/all-wheel-drive UKL platform developed with BMW-owned British brand Mini.

It joins the UKL-based 2 Series Active Tourer tallboy hatch and X1 compact crossover as part of BMW’s growing “premium entry-level” range designed to attract more first-time customers to the brand and tap into the world’s fastest growing new-car segment.

For now the Australian 1 Series hatch remains rear-drive, but is tipped to follow its UKL brethren when replaced around 2018. Rumour has it that the next 2 Series coupe and convertible will still send power to the back.

The 1 Series Sedan is built under BMW Group’s joint venture with Chinese car-maker Brilliance Automotive.

Although it was developed and tested by BMW headquarters in Munich, Chinese engineers were involved and the car was subjected to “intensive road tests in respect to different circumstances of road conditions and climate situations on different terrains in China”.

“With the BMW 1 Series Sedan, BMW engineers have made a lot of specific fine-tuning and improvements according to the Chinese customers' habits and vehicle-use environment,” said a BMW statement accompanying the reveal.

A minor and tamed-down evolution of the Concept Compact Sedan unveiled at Guangzhou a year ago, the production 1 Series Sedan has larger, less angular headlights and a slightly less coupe-like angle to the rear roof, but the proportions, surfacing and unmistakable BMW design hallmarks are maintained.

Interior photos have not yet been revealed, but BMW promises the full suite of ConnectedDrive multimedia technologies and “significantly enhanced safety”.

Drivetrain details are also scarce, but the “powerful and technology-leading” engines will be built in BMW’s new plant at Shenyang in northeast China.

As reported, the 1 Series Sedan is not expected to be China-only forever.

BMW Group Australia managing director Marc-Heinrich Werner told GoAuto in January that the local operation was interested in a front-drive four-door and that long-term China-only production was not a given.

“It’s not 100 per cent that China will be the only production site because we look at the global markets for this concept and see where else it can be produced,” he said.

“I believe that if that car was available as a right-hand-drive vehicle then it would certainly make sense to launch that car in Australia.”

The 1 Series Sedan will become the fifth Chinese-produced BMW.

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