BMW’s new baby zeroes in on Fiesta

Sub-1-Series model sets sights on Ford and front-wheel drive will be most frugal BMW

BMW is heading into Ford Fiesta territory! Auto Express has learned that the German firm is readying a new front-wheel-drive supermini, likely to be badged the 0-Series. And our exclusive pictures give you the best view yet of how the compact contender will look.

As its name suggests, it will fill the gap between the 1-Series and MINI – satisfying buyers’ demands for small cars with a premium feel. It’s set to compete with top-end superminis and prestige models such as Audi’s upcoming A1. The hatch will be based on the next-generation MINI platform, making it the first-ever front-wheel-drive BMW.

However, while it might buck the firm’s rear-drive tradition, there’s a clear family influence in the design. The twin kidney grilles and front apron take their lead from the 1-Series and are paired with new lights.

At the rear, a sweeping tailgate and subtle spoilers demonstrate that while this is an entry-level BMW, it still prioritises on driving pleasure and sportiness. To ensure a unique experience, the 0-Series will get hi-tech aids such as an electronic diff and active damping – something that will be reflected in its elevated price tag, which is likely to start from around £16,000.

Customers will be able to choose from the sleek three-door seen here and a more practical five-door. The model could also spawn a compact two-seater for 2013, using shared architecture with the MINI Roadster.

Efficiency is a priority. A range of powerful but clean petrol and diesel motors should make this the most frugal BMW ever. A development of the 161bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbodiesel, which debuted as a range extender on the Vision EfficientDynamics Concept, may be among the choices, while an all-electric powertrain will follow at a later date.

The 0-Series will form part of BMW’s Project ‘i’ range – a new breed of ultra-efficient cars featuring electric, petrol, hybrid and diesel variants with two, three or four wheels. Expect the 0-Series to go into production as soon as 2012, meaning a concept car could be as little as 18 months away.

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