Spy shots of BMW's 1-Series saloon

The 1-Series saloon will be launched next year as BMW's challenge to the highly-successful Audi A3. The new compact will be unusual because it will be front-wheel drive and may not be the ideal vehicle for BMW purists; however, the four-door looks impressive in the pictures published so far.

The 1-Series is based on the 1-Series hatchback platform and will be front-wheel drive; the current-generation 1-Series hatch will be the last to be rear-wheel drive. The new saloon is set to join the Gran Tourer and the 2-Series Active Tourer, which are also front-wheel drive. What is different about the 1-Series saloon is that customers do not get a choice of back- or front-wheel drive; therefore, it is possible that the 1-Series will also have an xDrive option.

The car is heavily disguised in the pictures; however, it appears to be a similar design to the 3-Series but a little smaller. The new car was photographed while being put through its paces at the famous Nürburgring. For some time now luxury car maker BMW has been aware that it does not have a natural competitor to not only the A3 but also the Mercedes-Benz CLA. This is a lucrative sales sector, which the company is keen to compete in.

The new saloon will come equipped with transverse diesel and three- and four-cylinder petrol engines. A plug-in hybrid is also possible at some later stage.