All-new BMW 1 Series revealed for Europe

BMW just announced the all-new third-generation 1 Series, with a sporty wedge silhouette, more power, better fuel economy, and a host of technology and driver assistance features. Skeptics may be doubtful, but BMW also says that the new front-wheel-drive 1 Series will be more agile and handle better than the outgoing rear-wheel-drive model.

With the new layout, the 1 Series competes more directly with the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and the Audi A3. Still, BMW won’t send the 1 Series to the U.S. market—the plan is to send the upcoming four-door 2 Series Gran Coupe (using the same architecture) as the entry-level BMW on our shores.

Three trim lines are offered: SE, Sport, and M Sport, each with distinctive styling touches. One of the changes, in addition to the sportier profile, is what BMW says is a “pronounced ‘shark nose.’” And yes, the new 1 Series has BMW’s traditional “Hofmeister Kink” incorporated into the C pillar, like in the BMW X2.

Moving to FWD frees up some interior space, with slightly more knee room, headroom, and elbow room. Cargo capacity has been increased by 0.7 cubic feet to 13.4 (42.4 cubic feet with the rear bench seat folded down), and for the first time a power tailgate is available. An opening panoramic glass roof with integrated roller blind and wind deflector is optional.

BMW 1 Series grille detail
BMW 1 Series badge

BMW 1 Series driving front 3/4

The SE comes with 16-inch aluminum wheels, Sport models come with 17s, and the M Sport version gets 18 inch rims standard with optional 19s available for the first time on a 1 Series. M135i xDrive editions have their own unique polished 18-inch wheels.

The SE comes with matte black air inlets, while the Sport’s are finished in gloss black, accompanied by BMW’s signature kidney-shaped grilled framed in chrome. M Sport models feature aerodynamic touches along with a satin aluminum grille. The top of the series M135i xDrive has a mesh grille, front bumper air duct clasps, and side mirrors in Cerium Grey with a gloss black mesh diffuser in back.

BMW Performance Control is standard. Also known as yaw moment distribution, the system can improve handling by gently applying the brakes on the side of the car that’s on the inside of a turn, suppressing understeer common to FWD vehicles. The third-gen 1 Series also features the first application of BMW’s ARB contiguous wheel slip limitation tech, originally seen on the i3s EV, on a combustion powered car. Dynamic Stability Control and Dynamic Traction Control are standard. DTC can allow more rear wheel slip for a sportier driving experience.

The all-wheel-drive 120d xDrive and M135i xDrive come with BMW’s xDrive intelligent AWD, which can allocate power between the front and rear axles up to a 50:50 split. The M135i xDrive also comes with an  eight-speed automatic transmission, a Torsen limited-slip differential, and launch control.

BMW 1 Series wheel detail
BMW 1 Series seat detail

white BMW 1 Series

The new 1 Series is about 60 pounds lighter than the second-gen car, with and aluminum hood and tailgate, while high strength steels increase body stiffness.

In addition to the standard suspension, a lowered M Sport suspension is optional, as is an Adaptive suspension with Variable Damper Control.

There are five engines available (in Europe), three diesels and two gasoline powered. Standard models will get a 140-horsepower 1.5-liter three-cylinder, while the M135i xDrive gets a new turbocharged 306-hp 2.0-liter four. BMW is billing that motor as the company’s “most powerful four-cylinder engine,” perhaps to distract attention from the fact that the previous M135 had a turbo six-cylinder with about 320 hp.

Three different transmissions will be used for the 1 Series range. The standard transmission for the diesel and three-cylinder gasoline models will be a six-speed manual, with a seven-speed dual-clutch Steptronic automatic available as an option. The M135i xDrive gets an eight-speed Steptronic Sport gearbox. The two automatic transmissions can adapt their shifting patterns based on input from the Active Cruise Control and the Navigation system to avoid unneeded gear changes when going through a series of curves, as well as downshifting when approaching vehicles ahead to reduce speed.

European orders begin today, with delivery first scheduled for September of this year. While we won’t get BMW’s new hot-hatch here in the U.S., the new 1 Series provides a solid preview of the 2 Series Gran Coupe to come.

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