Run for the hills, driving enthusiasts: BMW unveiled just a front-wheel drive sedan. For the majority of the 40 years that BMW has been in America, it has marketed itself as the “Ultimate Driving Machine.” That’s because it has always prioritized driving dynamics over virtually all else, offering stylish, rear- or all-wheel drive cars with a decidedly European flare. That is about to change, however. Well, the drive wheels portion at least. Friday morning at China’s largest auto show, Auto Guangzhou, BMW unveiled a car cleverly called “Concept Sedan.” Despite its lackluster name and muted paint scheme, the small sedan represents a new direction forward for the iconic German luxury carmaker.
The compact sedan is front-wheel drive, which, if you weren’t aware, does not make for the classic outstanding driving characteristics that the brand has held dear for decades. If you’re saying to yourself: “But, Nick, this is just a concept. BMW would never sell a front-wheel drive sedan,” just wait. The all-new X1 compact crossover is front- or all-wheel drive. And it moved that vehicle from a rear- or all-wheel drive platform to a front-wheel setup after a study a few years ago showed that 40% of BMW 1 Series owners didn’t realize their cars weren’t front-wheel drive.
With that shocking revelation, BMW looked deep inside itself and realized that if its customers already thought they were driving front-wheel drive cars, it might as well save the time and money on rear-wheel drive platforms and build front-wheel drive cars. Enter the Concept Sedan. Looking at the thing, it appears, save a few concept-y interior trim features, production-ready. If you’re worried this car will inevitably signal the end of rear-wheel drive BMW, I can’t assuage your fears … because it might.