BMW doesn’t say as much in the press release issued late last week, but it’s not a stretch to suggest the next-generation 1 Series will look a lot like the awkwardly-named Concept Compact Sedan the German automaker recently unveiled at the auto show in Guangzhou, China’s third-largest city.

It’s no coincidence BMW staged the reveal of its next small car in China: while the company’s senior VP of design, Adrian van Hooydonk, says the concept “reveals the potential we see in a compact sedan,” it also recognizes the “great growth potential (that) can be seen in the Chinese premium compact market,” and BMW says this concept reflects the research it has done on the future of small car trends and customer demands in China.

In typical German style, BMW’s press release extols the virtues of every little design cue drawn into the concept, but the only actual specification provided is the 8.8-inch measurement of the dashboard’s central display screen. Photos say a lot, though, and if a future production car looks anything like this (or a rendering made public in March), we think the tight overhangs and other familiar styling cues will go over just fine with customers in China and the many other countries in which the next-gen 1 Series will be sold.

Inside, seats trimmed in ‘Velocity Tulip’ (orange, anyone?) suggest a level of sportiness BMW is likely eager to have associated with this car, even if base spec production models will be more efficient than effervescent. There’s an obvious comparison to be made between a future 1 Series and the current Audi A3 sedan and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class (interestingly, some of the photos you see here, downloaded from BMW’s media database, were titled ‘Audi Rainmaker’), seeing as this car is expected to be based on the same front-drive platform that underpins the 2 Series Active Tourer and the latest Mini Cooper, and powered by three- and four-cylinder turbocharged engines. We would be surprised if this car were not offered with all-wheel drive, as Audi and Benz’s small sedans are.

Audi Rainmaker

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