This is the all-new BMW 1 Series, a thoroughly re-engineered version of the German manufacturer’s entry-level model. It’s on sale now priced from £24,430, with first customer deliveries due in September.
For its third generation, the 1 Series has undergone its most dramatic transformation since the car was launched in 2004. Based on customer feedback, BMW has focused on increasing practicality, so the hatch is now larger than before, while the brand’s compact car line-up will see the three-door 2 Series Coupe morph into a five-door Gran Coupé.
To achieve those gains in practicality, the 1 Series has switched to BMW’s front-wheel-drive architecture, which also underpins the MINI range. But to suit the 1 Series’ focus on driving dynamics, bosses say that the platform has been revamped so that it can deliver greater driver enjoyment.
“If we could have rear-wheel drive for this generation we wouldn’t, because what we have is a better system,” Jochen Schmalholz, BMW’s 1 Series product manager, told Auto Express. “The two main purchase reasons were a sporty design and strong driving dynamics; this car will be the benchmark in its class in this respect.”
Dimensions and practicality
The switch to the new architecture can be seen in the stubby bonnet, raked windscreen and curvier C-pillar. It gives the car a more compact look, despite being larger than before, at 4,319mm long (-5mm), 1,799mm wide (+34mm) and 1,434mm tall (+13mm). The wheelbase is 20mm longer, at 2,670mm.
As a result, BMW says, rear passenger space has greatly improved. An extra 33mm of kneeroom and 19mm of headroom may not sound much, but along with longer (by 80mm) rear doors, the increase in size is noticeable. The boot is 20 litres bigger as well, at 380 litres, putting it on par with the VW Golf’s, while the width of the load bay’s opening has grown by 67mm.
The cabin has also been overhauled, with the 1 Series borrowing most of its new tech and design from the larger 3 Series. All but entry-level cars get a new 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, while a 9.2-inch head-up display and upgraded 10.25-inch infotainment screen can be specced, too.
Engines, gearbox and economy
In the UK, the 1 Series range will consist of five models: two petrols and three diesels. The big seller – set to make up 40 per cent of sales – will be the £24,430 petrol 118i, which has a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine shared with the MINI Cooper, giving 138bhp and 220Nm of torque. BMW says it should sprint from 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds and return up to 56.5mpg, with CO2 emissions as low as 114g/km depending on wheel size.
The entry-level diesel is the 1.5-litre three- cylinder 116d (£25,480). This has less power than the 118i (115bhp) but more torque, at 270Nm. BMW claims 0-62mph in 10.3 seconds, but the car returns up to 74.3mpg, with CO2 emissions as low as 100g/km.
Above this sits the 118d (£26,640). It has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel with 148bhp and 350Nm, giving 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds and a claimed 68.9mpg. All three engines have a six-speed manual box, with the option of a seven-speed DCT auto on the 118i and 116d, and an eight-speed auto for the 118d.
If you want four-wheel drive you’ll need the 120d xDrive Sport (£32,470). Its 2.0-litre diesel is paired to an eight-speed auto as standard and develops 187bhp and 400Nm of torque. BMW says it’ll cover 0-62mph in seven seconds, and returns up to 62.8mpg.
Trim levels in the UK will comprise SE, Sport and M Sport, and every model gets LED headlamps, cruise control, parking sensors, air-con and alloy wheels. BMW has also borrowed tech from the electric i3 to aid performance by integrating part of the traction control into the engine’s ECU. This means the system can work up to 10 times faster than before. BMW says this is particularly effective in the wet and when cornering.
BMW M135i hot hatch
The flagship 1 Series will be the M135i, which rivals the VW Golf R, Audi S3 and Mercedes-AMG A 35. In place of the old car’s 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine is a 306bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo – the most powerful 2.0-litre unit ever fitted to a production BMW.
It comes with an eight-speed auto box and xDrive four-wheel drive, which splits its power 50:50 front to rear. BMW claims that, with the help of launch control, the M135i will complete 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds, while performance upgrades include a limited-slip diff on the front axle, plus bespoke M Sport suspension, steering and brakes.
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