Indeed, carmakers the world over watch the country very closely to respond to the demands of its consumers, thus ensuring that they can get a slice of the very big pie. This has resulted in a veritable cornucopia of automotive choices exclusive to the Chinese market, ranging from the ubiquitous Volkswagen Santana (based on a three-decade-old Passat platform) to long-wheelbase versions of typically mid-size luxury sedans like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
Even BMW admits that their newest Concept Compact Sedan, aptly debuted at the Auto Guangzhou 2015, is a result of the country’s growing premium compact-sedan market.
“The BMW Concept Compact Sedan represents the approach to life of a generation of youth in China. These potential customers are confident, dynamic and extremely quality-conscious and have a feel for aesthetics,” the German automaker said.
Although Chinese yuppies may have been the car’s intended audience, many people worldwide are paying attention to the Concept Compact Sedan, as it may form the basis of the next 1-Series.
Despite the tasteful “Liquid Metal Bronze” paint and massive 20-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels, the car’s overall profile is unmistakably the classic, three-box sedan that I used to draw as a child.
But whereas I left my sedan as flat and plain as the bond paper that it was on, BMW jazzed the Concept Compact Sedan up with a steeply raked windshield, fairly short front and rear overhangs (as a result of the car’s long wheelbase) and a very prominent beltline that runs from the back end of the fenders all the way into the taillights. Additional character lines at the bottom of the doors, polished-aluminum window surrounds and the company’s signature “Hofmeister kink” at the C-pillar all help give the Concept Compact Sedan a more sleek appearance.
Up front is where the 1-Series resemblance gains credence, particularly with the protruding “kidney” grill (like am animal’s snout) and hexagonal LED headlights. The front view is also where you can fully appreciate the Concept Compact Sedan’s slim door mirrors. The lower front bumper, though, is more concept car, with gaping faux air intakes surrounding a rather conservative lower grill.
This treatment is reflected at the rear. A familiar upper section, comprised of a prominent integrated spoiler and L-shaped LED taillights, is augmented with a stylish lower section, where the chrome exhaust tips are molded into the bumper (reminiscent of cars like the original Ford Thunderbird).
Stepping into the Concept Compact Sedan, the familiar and the new continue to make themselves very clear.
The light and airy, Warm Ivory-Grey Brown Nappa leather interior is balanced by the dark, open-pored wood trim, combined with aluminum accents. Meanwhile, the leather-topped BMW dashboard is given a modern twist with the orange lights around the angular air vents, center console, door cards and upper controls for the panoramic moonroof. The orange extends to the seat edging and seat base with what BMW calls “Velocity Tulip” trim.
The familiar dashboard layout has been made simpler, eschewing buttons for touch panels, with the iDrive controller and the sculpted metal gear knob the only prominent controls. BMW also said the Concept Compact Sedan comes with a heads-up display and an 8.8-inch center screen. Moving to the back row, one finds two individual seats and a separate climate-control unit for rear passengers.
The BMW Concept Compact Sedan may not look totally radical for a concept car, but it certainly serves as a stylish preview for the company’s next small car that can appeal to people both inside and outside the Chinese market.