► Front-wheel drive, 140-306bhp, three- and four-cylinder turbos
► M Performance range already revealed
► On sale September, priced from £24,430
BMW has revealed a new range of M Performance parts for the new 1-series, so customers will be able to give it a more aggressive – and hopefully, nicer – look. As you’d expect, it’s the aero upgrades that give the most visual impact, but there are a range of other bits that should improve performance, too.
The M Performance parts now give the 1-series enough aero-furniture to worry the Mercedes-AMG A35, with a carbonfibre front splitter, rear diffuser, spoiler and aero flicks all available to 1-series owners.
Less useful are M puddle lights, M wheel bags and M inscription on the lower doors. And while we’re here, you can also change the grille of the 1-series to a mesh pattery if you so desire.
If you want a solid performance increase, there’s also an 18-inch performance brake system, with red calipers. You’ll be able to add 18- or 19-inch wheels, too, and in the cockpit you’ll be able to add more sporty trinkets. Think carbonfibre paddle shifters, alcantara and gripper floor mats, and you’re pretty much there.
There's no prices as yet, but we'll update this article when we know more. Do they improve the look of the new 1-series, or make things worse? Let us know in the comments.
BMW 1-series: everything you need to know
Here it is – the 2019 BMW 1-series. It’s a big moment for the Bavarian carmaker, as it finally bows to the inevitable, and drops its aged rear-wheel drive strategy for its smallest model and goes front-wheel drive. The top petrol and diesel versions gain BMW’s xDrive four-wheel drive system, which should keep all that power in check.
The new car, which sits on BMW’s UKL2 platform, shares much with the MINI line-up, as well as the BMW X1/X2, and 2-series Active/Gran Tourer ranges, will be considerably cheaper to build than the old model for the company. It also allows for the introduction of new driver and safety tech, which BMW says puts it right at the cutting edge of its market sector.
Fancy something similiar but a bit higher up? Look at the new BMW X1.
The third-generation model will get its first public airing at the Frankfurt motor show, but BMW has already announced pricing and specifications for what could become its biggest selling car in the UK. There is no three-door version available at launch, and that’s likely to remain the case throughout the car’s life.
BMW 1-series styling – conservative looks for conservative buyers
There’s one thing you can say about the 1-series - it’s been consistently ugly since its launch in 2004. Much of the visual awkwardness of the first-generation model can be put down to the odd proportions borne from its rear-wheel drive drivetrain combined with engineering hardpoints from the ill-fated Rover R30 project it was sired from. Ally that with Chris Bangle’s flame surfacing, and you were left with a baby that only its mother would love.
The second generation was more of the same, whereas this one is a ground-up reboot of the franchise - very much following the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and Audi A3 in adhering to the small premium hatch template. The larger kidneys up front, and the Ford Focus-like proportions will take a considerable amount of time to get used to, but a lack of visual elegance never held back the old 1-series before, and if anything, this one fits in way more readily with its rivals.
Moving to front-wheel drive gives the 1-series a larger, more usable interior, bigger boot, and vastly improved practicality – in this market sector, that matters more than balanced handling and uncorrupted steering. Let’s see if the sales figures bear this out.
What’s under the skin of the new BMW 1-series?
BMW watchers won’t be surprised by the new engine range – it’s a familiar line-up of three-and four-cylinder petrol and diesels. They’ve all been redeveloped for improved power and efficiency, so the entry-level three-cylinder 1.5-litre 118i now develops 136bhp (up 4bhp), and CO2 emissions are cut to 123-114g/km (NEDC).
The petrol range then jumps to the M135i xDrive, which puts out a more serious 301bhp, thanks to 2.0-litre four-cylinder TwinPower Turbo set-up. Despite being able to crack 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds, it’ll return 34.4-35.3mpg combined (WLTP) and put out 155-157g/km (NEDC).
Unusually for a 2019 new model launch the 1-series has more diesel options than petrol. You get a choice of three from the BMW 116d (1.5-litre, 114bhp, 54.3-61.4mpg, 100-103g/km), the 148bhp 118d and 187bhp 120d xDrive, which feature two-stage turbocharging, and are powered by BMW’s excellent 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engines. Economy and performance are as you’d expect – the 118d returns 51.4-60.1mpg with CO2 emissions of 108-111g/km, while the 120d xDrive makes 48.7-51.4mpg and 117-119g/km of CO2 emissions.
The body is lighter and more rigid than before, and in order to minimise weight, aluminium is used for the bonnet and tailgate for instance and other high-tensile steels are used throughout its monocoque. The end result is a weight reduction model for model of around 30kg. We were expecting more, given the fact the old car’s propshaft accounts for most of that.
BMW says the new car’s dynamics are very much in keeping with the balanced ethos of the old one. So, it gets a super-responsive throttle and steering. The rigid body helps with the suspension tuning – and BMW promises a better ride, too. The M135i is offered with standard M Sport suspension (10mm lower than standard), brakes and steering (a faster rack). You can optionally select these across the range in the M Sport Plus package.
BMW 1-series is also available with Adaptive suspension including VDC (Variable Damper Control) as an option, whichlets the driver choose from two different damping response settings via the Driving Experience Control switch, namely Comfort or Sport.
What’s the new 1-series like inside?
Think new BMW 3-series and you’re already there. As well as BMW’s Live Cockpit with 8.8-inch central touchscreen and instrument cluster has a 5.7-inch colour display (upgradeable to 10.25in), the driver aid count has been increased significantly - so you can now specify Active Cruise Control with Stop and Go. Safety systems include collision and pedestrian warning with city braking function, Lane Departure warning with steering assist and speed limit information. Optional extras include Lane Change Warning with blind spot detection system.
A Head-up display is available on the 1-series for the first time as is Parking Assistant, which offers automatic assisted parking for parallel or 90-degree parking. in spaces that are either parallel or perpendicular to the road. Thanks to the BMW Digital Key, you can also now use your smartphone instead of a key, by holding it to the door handle to let you in. Finally, BMW’s Alexa-style Intelligent Personal Assistant is available on the 1-series – just by saying ‘Hey BMW’. It’s fully online and connected, and is updated on air remotely by BMW.
What’s the 1-series range look like when it goes on sale in the UK?
The 1-series comes in SE, Sport and M Sport forms, and the range is topped off by M135i xDrive. Standard models feature matt-black exterior highlights while the Sport gets more air inlets and reverts to high-gloss black for its trim pieces. M Sport gains a bodykit, and the M135i xDrive gets mesh-design for its oversized kidney grille. The new BMW 1 Series is on sale from September with prices from £24,430 and topping out at £36,430 before options.