BMW 1-series F20 (2011): 3dr and 5dr scooped

Published: 26 May 2011

This is the new 2011 BMW 1-series, Munich’s mid-sized hatch which bows in later this summer. Our artist’s impressions show a smoother evolution of the existing 1-series silhouette, with a markedly more aggressive, forward-leaning ‘shark nose’ effect to the front end of the F20 1-series.

The new 1-series family will go on sale later in 2011. Although front-wheel drive BMWs are coming, the new One is very much rear-drive. It’s the second iteration of the existing RWD architecture.

The third-gen 1-series due in 2016-17 will, however, switch to front-wheel drive as the new UKL1 platform is rolled out across the BMW group. This is the last of the RWD baby BMWs.

F20 1-series engines: turbocharged fours join the range

If the Munich grapevine can be trusted, most 1-series engines will be downsized for improved efficiency. That means a 1.6-litre turbo in petrol or diesel guise for starter models 116i and 116d.

Phase II of Efficient Dynamics covers the electrification of the auxiliary equipment. This move calls for an integrated starter-generator, a more powerful storage battery, on-demand oil and water pumps, a lighter AC compressor, an engine and transmission oil pre-heater and a new automatic gearbox compatible with the start-stop system.

In addition to brake energy regeneration, the BMW engineers also intend to make use of surplus heat provided by exhaust and coolant.

That ZF-supplied eight-speed gearbox means the new 1-series could in theory be hybridised if the market demands a petrol-electric model at this price point.

Why have they kept the 1-series rear-wheel drive? 

Since F20 is twinned with the 2012 F30 (the follow-up to the 3-series), it retains rear-wheel drive – but this decision was not an easy one.

‘What tipped the scales was the relatively high demand for six-cylinder engines in the current 1-series coupé and cabriolet,’ recalls Klaus Draeger, head of R&D. ‘Since this choice makes RWD mandatory, we put the other options on ice.’

The other 1-series bodystyles

Another high-ranking official explains: ‘About nine months after the five-door 1-series, the three-door follows in 2012. In 2013, we are going to release the new cabriolet and the closely related coupé. In 2014, the small car offensive continues with the first of initially three front-wheel drive BMWs which will also be part of the 1-series family.’