Wednesday, 4 July 2007

New BMW F3 and F5

While Mercedes-Benz is contemplating a different model to replace both its A- & B-Class come 2011, its long time arch-rival, BMW, has a 3 Series-based compact MPV (Sportvan) given stamping approval for production. Expected to arrive sometime mid-2010 in both RWD and all-wheel drive (AWD) forms, the F3 will likely share the same engines as the 3-Series and 1-Series. Both BMW’s superb 2.0L turbodiesels will undoubtedly make it under the F3’s hoods in Europe, but these oil burners are unlikely to cross over to the North American market, much like the recently unveiled 1-series coupe.

Previously referred to as the BMW V3, this 5-seater compact MPV will wear an F3 badge when it goes into production by 2010. AutoWeek reported a BMW insider giving the following statement: “We’ve looked carefully at prevailing market trends, and there appears to be a clear shift away from old-style multi-purpose vehicles. By combining the high seating position of a sport/utility vehicle with the space afforded by a traditional station wagon, crossovers appear to be providing a clear alternative to buyers.”

Not surprisingly, the all-wheel drive F3 will share driveline components (xDrive) with the all-new X3, which is due sometime 2009. The F3 is not the first crossover MPV from BMW due for rollout. The Munich automaker had already confirmed in 2005 that it will be building a sports-MPV based on the X5 under the working title RFK (Raumfunktionales Konzept) meaning Space-Functional Concept.

The production model of this Mercedes-Benz R-Class competitor will be dubbed F5 (early rendering as the V5 above) and is scheduled to debut sometime mid-2009. Mercedes-Benz has experienced lacklustre sales of its R-Class sports-tourer MPV practically the world over. Whether BMW can work wonders with this upcoming F5 remains a big question mark, even though the crossover market is a growing segment both in Europe as well as the United States.

After noting the success of the X3 and X5, BMW is looking to capture a wider audience from this burgeoning market with the upcoming F3, which will be marketed as a small crossover MPV promising a sporty drive and flexible utility in one compact package. It will be targeted at motoring enthusiasts who don’t find the X3 interesting or exciting enough, but want something that rides taller and roomier, and possibly more fashionable than the E90 3-series.

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