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Next-gen BMW 2 Series keeping RWD layout

It almost didn't happen.

The next-generation BMW 1 Series will switch to a front-wheel drive architecture. Nothing is official yet, but the looming change is the worst-kept secret in Munich. The enthusiast-friendly 2 Series could have suffered the same fate but one of the company's top officials stepped in to save it.

"People asked 'does [rear-wheel drive] really matter because the segment is too small?' I think it's so important for the brand and it's so important for M, because the M2 is the entry model. So I fought hard and I won. You will have also a 2 Series successor that will have the power where you need it," affirmed Klaus Frohlich, the company's development boss, in an interview with Australian website Motoring.

He added that he nicknamed the next-generation 2 Series "drift machine" to remind engineers and designers of its status in the BMW portfolio. It's a driver's car above all; luxury and technology features are important, too, but they come second.

BMW is currently developing the 2 Series so it's too early to provide technical details. We doubt the company would take the costly and time-consuming route of designing an architecture specifically for what promises to be a low-volume model. Odds are the 2 will receive a version of the modular platform found under the latest 3 Series and 5 Series.

The decision to keep rear-wheel drive alive means the next-generation 2 Series could buck the downsizing trend and keep its straight-six engine. The six won't return to the 1 Series line-up because the next-gen model's platform was designed to use transversally-mounted engines no wider than a four-cylinder.

Frohlich's drift machine will make its debut in the early 2020s.

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