New BMW 1 Series reinvented with focus on practicality

While the engine offers less power and torque – 332lb ft compared with 369lb ft – BMW insists it offers comparable real-world performance, helped by a chassis that is stiffer and 20kg lighter than before. It has a 0-62mph time of 4.8sec, just 0.2sec down on the previous model, and an equal limited top speed of 155mph. It matches the current Golf R Performance for power, while offering substantially more torque.

BMW has introduced a number of styling tweaks to make the M135i stand out from the rest of the 1 Series range, including a kidney grille featuring a motorsport-inspired mesh design. BMW has put considerable focus on the development of the 1 Series to ensure it retains a similar handling dynamic to the previous car. To aid this, the new one incorporates an actuator-controlled wheel slip limitation system (ARB), only previously used on the electric i3, as standard. It features a slip controller mounted directly on the engine control unit to reduce response times and works with the dynamic stability control (DSC) system to reduce understeer.

BMW’s Performance Control system is also fitted as standard, while all variants feature a multi-link rear axle and are fitted with a boomerang-shaped rear suspension strut to increase rigidity. The M135i also features extra bracing to further increase stiffness and a bespoke anti-roll bar. There is standard Sport suspension and aerodynamic tweaks too.

At launch, the wider 1 Series range will also include the 118i with a 138bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, as well as the 116d, 118d and all-wheel-drive 120d xDrive diesels, ranging from 114bhp to 188bhp. Lower-end models get a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic, with an eight-speed auto as standard on the 120d. While the 1 Series will launch with only petrol and diesel engines, the new platform can accommodate hybrid systems. Such versions have yet to be confirmed but are expected to be introduced later on.

Wheel sizes ranging from 16in to 19in will be offered (the M135i sits on 18in wheels), with three different suspension systems – standard, the lowered M Sport version and an adaptive system – available. The new 1 Series is 4319mm long, 5mm shorter than its predecessor, largely because the FAAR platform uses transverse engine mountings, while its 2670mm wheelbase has shrunk by 20mm. The car is 34mm wider (at 1799mm), though, and BMW says the new platform allows for more interior space. The firm claims there is an extra 33mm of knee room and up to 19mm of rear head room. The 380-litre boot is 20 litres larger than the old model’s, and BMW says access to the rear and boot is substantially improved by the new design.

The exterior design features a substantially larger grille, in keeping with BMW’s recent designs, while the side of the car is dominated by the traditional ‘Hofmeister kink’ at the C-pillar and two character lines on the main bodywork. Optional full LED headlights and tail-lights are available, with all models featuring LED daytime running lights. A panoramic sunroof can also be added as an option for the first time.

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