The BMW 1-Series needs no introduction. It’s as well-known as its bigger sibling, the BMW 3-Series, and is a household favourite of the BMW range. A practical, sporty hatch-back that offers BMW build quality and refinement, packed full of essential driver assisted technologies all wrapped up in an affordable and stylish exterior. It’s clear why it’s such a popular choice.
The current generation (F20 and F21 BMW 1-Series) has been on our roads since 2011 and is still a very well equipped, modern car. Thanks to a facelift in 2015 that updated the styling and introduce some new spec levels, you wouldn’t know it was nearly 9 years old!
With a new BMW 1-Series about to hit our retail centre floors at the end of this year, the current BMW 1-Series offers exceptional value for money if you’re in the market for a new car. It’s the cheapest BMW you can buy and offers a unique driving experience as it’s the only rear-wheel-drive option in the segment and as a result is great fun to drive and offers a wide range of fuel-efficient engines. You can view our current 1-Series offers here.
The all-new 2020 F40 BMW 1-Series is going to be a very different car, unlike any other BMW 1-Series before it. Switching from rear-wheel-drive to a front-wheel-drive design some critics have been concerned it will lose its exciting driver-focused, sporty edge and become just another premium hatchback. The truth of the matter is that while under the skin the new BMW 1-Series will share many parts with its BMW 2-Series Active Tourer brethren, the handling has been a key focus of the car's development to ensure it stay competitive in its segment against the likes of the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
Engineers have spent five years developing the car’s front-wheel-drive system to ensure it keeps the sporting characteristics of its predecessors. The result of the work is called Contiguous Wheel Slip Limitation and it helps improve traction when pulling away, cornering and when driving in the wet.This isn’t new technology for BMW as it is featured on the quirky little BMW i3 PHEV. This transfer of technology from the BMW i brand to the core brand BMW is a first and is set to improve traction decisively while facilitating significantly more sensitive and faster control.
To further enhance the new BMW 1-Series handling and retain the famous sporty feel, various alterations to the chassis have been made. The targeted use of additional struts such as a standard rear-end “boomerang strut”, aim to improve torsional rigidity and increase body control.
The switch from rear-wheel-drive to front-wheel-drive also has the added benefit of more space. While the new 2020 BMW 1-Series is shorter than the current car, it's actually bigger inside. Rear knee room, elbow room and headroom are all improved and the boot is bigger too thanks to all the drivetrain mechanics finding a new home under the bonnet and not under the boot floor. In fact, it’s now larger than a Mercedes A-Class.
Not only will drivers and passengers now be more comfortable inside thanks to the extra space, but they will also benefit from BMWs latest infotainment and connected-driver technologies. As standard, the new 2020 BMW 1-Series will have a 9-inch touchscreen on the dash that can be operated with that familiar iDrive wheel controller between the front seats. There is the added option of upgrading to a 10-inch screen paired with gesture controls as well, a technology that you would normally find in the bigger BMW 3-Series. This upgrade option will also see your analogue driver dials replaced with a digital screen that can show the sat-nav instructions between the speedo and rev counter.
Further technology options available include BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant. Working much like the Amazon Alexa, you activate it by saying “hey BMW” before telling it what you want. It means you can keep focused on the road while telling the car to change the temperature, turn the radio up or even enter a location into the sat-nav. Finally, BMW has included its Reversing assistant. This is a technology that started life on the range-topping BMW 7-Series and larger SUVs like the BMW X5 and has now made its way through the range to help drivers get out of any tough situations they may have got themselves in. If the driver has managed to get their new BMW 1-Series stuck in a confined space, and they need to reverse back out, the BMW 1-Series can do all the hard work autonomously. By remembering the drivers steering inputs for the last 50 meters, it plays them backwards taking the car back along the same line it went in on. All the driver has to do is work the accelerator and the brakes to avoid any unwanted accidents.
Available with a wide range of engine options, there should be a model in the range to suit everyone. There is the entry-level diesel 116d, a three-cylinder 1.5-litre turbo that is good for an economical 70mpg. The initial launch will also include the 118d 2.0-litre four-cylinder and the higher power 120d xDrive (all-wheel-drive).
Petrol options start with the popular 118i, a three-cylinder 1.5-litre turbo that returns 50mpg and has a respectable performance of 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds. Critics of the new BMW 1-Series have not only flagged the loss of the rear-wheel-drive as an end of an era but also mourned the loss of the range-topping 3.0-litre straight-six petrol M140i. In its place will be the new BMW M135i, using BMW’s most powerful four-cylinder engine ever, it has a large turbo and produces 306bhp and 450Nm of torque.
The new BMW M135i won’t be front-wheel-drive either. Utilising the BMW xDrive all-wheel-drive system and paired with BMWs ZF 8-Speed automatic gearbox, 0-62mph takes just 4.8 seconds.
While we are still waiting to know how much each of the models above will cost, we do have a starting price of just over £24,000 for the petrol 118i. If you are after a Diesel you can expect to start at £25,000 before putting any options on. And the range-topping M135i will be £36,000. You can expect to order your new BMW 1-Series between September and December 2019.