All-New BMW 1 Series
The new BMW 1 Series, the baby of the BMW family, is back all new and ready to impress. Gone is the traditional BMW rear-wheel drive, in comes front-wheel drive for the first time. Will this change make the 1 Series feel less BMW? BMW engineers claim not, but only time will tell.
The BMW 1 Series began its journey back in 2003 and proved to be highly popular. It was good to drive and gave the public a great option to climb onto the BMW ladder. The one thing it did lack was space, which meant it was not as practical as its main premium rivals.
BMW then released a second-generation model which was better looking, a fraction more spacious and also manage to drive and perform better than the original. One of the issues with the RWD was, that space in the cabin and boot was still very restricted, in comparison to the equivalent Audi or Mercedes.
Enter the all-new third-generation BMW 1 Series, and all is different. Gone is rear-wheel drive and in comes a new FWD system using the new FAAR platform. The engine is now mounted transversely, not inline, to save space and assist in weight distribution. It is 5mm shorter, 34mm wider and 13mm taller than the previous model, but manages to be visually more appealing and sporty.
The new 1 Series will only be available in five-door form. There will be a choice of five engines and three transmission types. The trim levels are standard BMW, starting with the base-level SE, followed by Sport then M Sport and finally the top of the range M135i xDrive.
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Power and Performance – what does the 1 Series Offer
There will be five engine choices available, two petrol and three diesel. The entry-level petrol engine is the 1.5-litre, three-cylinder (118i) developing a respectable 140HP. It offers a good level of performance, along with good economy figures 42.2-45.6mpg combined (WLTP).
Then there's a jump to the M135i xDrive, the top of range hot hatch. A 2-litre, TwinPower turbocharged, four-cylinder petrol engine packing a punch at 306HP and 450Nm of torque. Capable of hitting 0-62mph in 4.8secs, going up to a limited top speed of 155mph. For true petrolheads, this is a beast and will rival the Mercedes-AMG A45 and Audi S3 for the best hot hatchback.
There are three diesel choices available in the line-up. There is the BMW 116d, 118d and 120d with 116HP, 150HP and 190HP respectively. The 116d uses a 1.5-litre three-cylinder diesel engine and is the most economical of the three. The 118d and 120d share the same TwinPower Turbocharged 2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine.
There is a choice of three transmissions, a six-speed manual, seven-speed dual-clutch automatic or eight-speed sport automatic. All BMW 1 Series' comes with FWD; however, the M135i and 120d are both available with BMW's xDrive system (AWD).
The new BMW 1 Series is up to 30kgs less than the outgoing model, as a result of using more aluminium and other lightweight but durable materials. All of which work together to increase economy and performance.
Steering is responsive, as is the acceleration. Handling and ride quality have not been affected by the change to FWD; in fact, it is probably better. There is an array of suspension options available, some standard depending on your model choice.
Extra Space and Safety Features
The new 1 Series is more spacious than its predecessor. Upfront, there is a little more legroom. More importantly, in the rear passengers get much needed extra leg/knee room with an additional 33mm. Not quite as much as a VW Golf or Ford Focus but a step in the right direction to increase passenger comfort. Headroom is also better than before but still not as generous as you would like, the top of the passenger's head will still graze the roof lining.
An increase in boot size is again is a welcome sight. The 1 Series now offers a 380-litre boot space which trumps its main rivals the A-Class and Audi A3. For the first time on the 1 Series, there is the optional Auto Tailgate which can be operated by remote control and hands-free.
There is no safety rating score from Euro NCAP for the new 1 Series. A 5-star rating is expected, given all of the standard safety equipment included. This includes lane-departure warning, cruise control, collision and pedestrian warning, with city braking function and the driving assistance pack.
Modern and advanced Interior
Inside the 1 Series, you'll find a vast improvement of technology and refinement. Following the current trend, the dashboard is orientated towards the drivers to make them feel more in tune with the car. BMW Live Cockpit Plus comes as standard across the range, with an 8.8-inch central touchscreen, with iDrive rotary controller and a 5.7-inch digital instrument cluster. Optional upgrades are available which increase screen sizes to 10.25 inches and come with BMW's latest 7.0 operating system.
BMW's Connected Package Plus is also a standard feature across the range and includes 'Hey BMW' voice recognition and Apple CarPlay. Other standard features include LED headlights and front fog lights, DAB Radio and multi-function sports steering wheel.
For the first time on a BMW 1 Series, there is an optional Head-Up display available along with Park Assist.There are many optional packages to choose from, so even with entry-level SE trim, you can kit out to a high spec.
The interior looks and feels of premium high-end quality, which is what we have come to expect from BMW. The 1 Series is better equipped than before. It offers a stunning infotainment system as good as any on the market.
The new BMW 1 Series faces a fierce battle against strong opposition in the premium sector, but this all-new version should be able to rise to the occasion. Can this third-generation 1 Series compete with its rivals? My guess is an emphatic yes. It looks great, performs well, space issues have been resolved, and the equipment is top-notch. This could become a great selling car for BMW, in a highly competitive market sector.