BMW 1-series Coupé (2012) scooped

Published: 15 January 2010

These are the first pictures of the new BMW 1-series Coupé coming in 2012. Caught cold-weather testing in Scandinavia, this is an early mule for the next-gen coupé: prototypes of the regular 1-series hatchback have been spied on the road for a while now.

Nice pictures, but will the real BMW 1-series Coupé be a looker?

That’s the plan. BMW’s current 1-series – whether in three- or five-door hatch, or coupé and cabriolet form – looks rather awkward. For the Gen-2 1-series, BMW’s design team will massage the looks to keep the identifiable traits (kidney grill, ’angle eye’ lights, Hofmeister kink), but aim to make the company’s smallest car beautiful in order to fend off the forthcoming Audi A1.

Under the skin it’s business as usual, but that’s no bad thing. Just as the current 1-series shares parts with the current 3-series, the new F20 generation One will borrow bits from the F30 Three that’s due a year later. That means a rear-drive chassis, though BMW did toy with the idea of front-drive: 'The relatively high demand for six-cylinder engines in the current 1-series coupé and cabriolet tipped the scales,' R&D boss Klaus Draeger told CAR. 'Those engines make rear-drive mandatory, so we’ve put the other options on ice.' (No pun intended with our pics.)

So we’ll still see straight six engines under the bonnet of the new 1-series Coupé?

Yes, but they’ll also be downsized, turbocharged engines too. Kicking off the range should be a turbo’d 1.3, in 136bhp (116i) and 177bhp (118i) guises, while the 120i is powered by a 218bhp 2.0-litre turbo. The current 3.0-litre straight six will also feature, but in the single turbo guise first seen in the new 5 GT. Diesel buyers will be taken care of by a 2.0-litre four and a 3.0-litre six in various states of tune, complete with NOx-trapping tech. 

All BMW’s latest EfficientDynamics gizmos will be standard too, including stop/start (now compatible on autos), gearshift indicators, lower rolling resistance tyres, on-demand oil and water pumps, a lighter air-con compressor and active aero.

Up first is the five-door 1-series hatchback in autumn 2011, closely followed by the three-door a few months later. Then comes the Coupé in 2012, and the Cabriolet around 12 months later. Other bodystyles are also under consideration inside BMW HQ, with a three-door shooting brake topping the list.

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By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy