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You’ll have to move to China if you want to buy BMW’s latest

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Ronan Glon/Digital Trends

BMW’s Chinese division has introduced an entry-level model called 1 Series Sedan. Its name implies that it’s a four-door version of the 1 Series hatchback sold in Europe, but there’s more than a trunk lid and a few extra inches of sheet metal separating the two models.

The only official image of the 1 Series Sedan confirms that it’s essentially a toned-down version of the Concept Compact Sedan that debuted last year at the Guangzhou Auto Show. And while technical details haven’t been announced yet, the entry-level Bimmer is widely expected to ride on the same front-wheel drive UKL platform as the MINI Hardtop and the second-generation X1, not on the 1 hatch’s rear-wheel drive platform.

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Like other UKL-based models, the 1 Sedan is available with turbocharged three- and four-cylinder engines borrowed from the BMW parts bin.  A diesel most likely won’t be offered because oil-burners are unpopular at best in China, and the 1’s transmission will be an eight-speed automatic unit. At this point, it’s too early to tell whether all-wheel drive will be available at an extra cost, or if an M-tuned model will slot at the top of the lineup.

BMW explains the model was developed specifically for Chinese motorists by Chinese engineers, because the premium compact car segment is the fastest-growing segment in China. The 1’s chief rivals are the stylish Mercedes-Benz CLA and the Audi A3 Sedan, two models that have been on sale for a couple of years.

The 1 Series Sedan will land in BMW dealerships across China in the coming months, but as of this writing it doesn’t sound like the model will be sold in the United States or in Europe. However, the CLA and the A3 won’t have the segment to themselves for long because an earlier rumor claims BMW is busily developing a four-door version of the rear-wheel drive 2 Series for our market.