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BMW axes 1 Series in U.S., leaves door wide open for Mercedes CLA success

BMW 1 Series

Thought about buying a 1 Series next year? Forget about it. Instead, you'll have to wait for the more powerful, more expensive, better-looking 2 Series.

Bad news, Bimmer fans: BMW is doing away with the 1 Series for the American market in 2014.

Just as its two major rivals, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, are releasing all-new, entry-level offerings, BMW is yanking its entry-level car from American showrooms for 2014. The German automaker has confirmed that production ceased on the current 1 Series Convertible ended in June 2013, while the 1 Series Coupe production ceased in August 2013.

This especially sad for me, as the 1 Series – and its variants – was my favorite BMW on sale in America today. I loved its compact size, eager engines, and throwback body styling. If given the choice of the new Mercedes CLA, Audi A3, or the BMW 1 Series, I’d choose the rear-drive Bimmer every day of the week. Sure, it was way less useful than the other two. But rear-wheel drive and a manual gearbox would sell me.

Amusingly enough, a few years ago, BMW did a poll of 1 Series owners and found that 40 percent of them thought their car was front-wheel drive. This meant they didn’t care either way. This, I fear, is why BMW is rolling out a new series of front-wheel drive cars.

What will replace the 1 Series as the bottom U.S. Bimmer? Not the European 1 Series. Instead, it’ll be a new 2 Series, which will essentially be the 1 Series but with a cleaner cabin.

If rumors are true, the American 2 Series will be sold in a few variants: a the 220i powered by a 180-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a 320-horsepower 3.0 inline six under the hood of the M235i. Available with either manual or automatic transmissions, these upgrades should make the 2 Series faster than the outgoing 1 Series.

So, all in all, the news isn’t terrible. It just means 1 Series fans will just have to wait a little while until the 2 Series goes on sale. And when might that be? Likely not until spring 2014 – and for a heftier price, of course.

We’re expecting a full production unveil of the all-new 2 Series at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show next January. So be sure to check back for more soon.