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FRANKFURT, Germany — Germany’s BMW has raked in profits selling high-priced larger cars. Now it’s getting ready to venture into less familiar turf — the highly competitive compact segment — with its new 1 Series, which will sell for not much more than a similar-sized Volkswagen Golf.

The company, which was showing the car to journalists on Wednesday, says the new vehicle combines the functionality of the popular hatchback category with what it says will be the higher performance associated with the Bavarian auto maker’s products.

“We see an increasing demand for a premium vehicle in this compact segment,” said company spokesman Eckhard Wannieck.

The car won’t go on sale in Europe until Sept. 18, but BMW is already marketing it heavily in Germany with television ads.

The pricing, while higher than competitors in the segment, dips fairly close to the Golf and the Audi A3. The entry-level 1 Series will sell for about $23,000, the company says.

The Golf with an equivalent engine runs around $22,600, and an A3 can cost around $22,800.

The car fulfills long-delayed BMW ambitions to make smaller cars, said auto analyst Christoph Stuermer at research firm Global Insight in Frankfurt. Those plans went awry when its acquisition of Britain’s Rover in 1994 turned out to be a flop and it disposed of its would-be mass-market arm.

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