Everything you need to know about the all-new BMW 1 Series

Compact premium hatch gets leaner but roomier, and is no longer rear-wheel driven

30 May 2019 - 08:11 By Denis Droppa
Enlarged grille and wider body give the new 1 Series more road presence. Picture: SUPPLIED
Enlarged grille and wider body give the new 1 Series more road presence. Picture: SUPPLIED

BMW has revealed details of the new, third-generation 1 Series that will make its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September before being launched in SA shortly afterwards.

Bavaria’s compact car, which has sold more than 1.3-million units in its first two iterations,

 inherits many of the intelligent technologies from its larger stablemates, while also making a big philosophy switch by changing from being rear-wheel driven to a choice of either front-wheel drive or xDrive all-wheel drive.

The loss of rear-wheel drive won’t mess with the brand’s typical driver-pleasing nature, says BMW, claiming that the car will have a dynamic sharpness that sets new standards in the premium compact class. This is, after all, the same company that builds the very agile front-wheel-drive Mini.

The car’s corner-taming nature is enhanced by ARB (actuator contiguous wheel slip limitation) technology familiar from the electric BMW i3, which allows wheel slip to be controlled much more sensitively and swiftly than before.

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A standard feature of the BMW 1 Series, ARB uses a slip controller that works in tandem with the DSC stability control to reduce the power understeer commonly experienced in front-wheel drive cars. Agility is further enhanced by BMW Performance Control (yaw moment distribution) which brakes the inside wheels under hard cornering.

Optional M Sport suspension provides even more pinned-down handling with a 10mm reduced ride height, and the car can also be specified with Adaptive suspension with VDC (Variable Damper Control) as an option. This particular variant lets the driver choose from Comfort and Sport settings.

Along with intelligent all-wheel drive, the range-topping M135i xDrive employs a mechanical Torsen limited-slip differential to give the car an even sportier edge by creating a locking effect between the front wheels.

The differential is integrated into the standard-fit eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission and also features a launch control mode. The M135i xDrive comes standard with sharpened steering and sports brakes, features that are optionally available for the other models.

The new 1 Series, which is available only as a five-door hatchback, is 5mm shorter than its predecessor, with a shorter wheelbase, but is much roomier. The width and height have increased to greatly improve rear passenger room.

The boot capacity of 380l is also 20l up on the outgoing car’s, and folding down the rear seat bench increases this to 1,200l. An electric tailgate is offered on the BMW 1 Series for the first time

A major restyle sees the car acquiring the new large grille of modern BMW design convention, which gives the compact hatch greater presence. In the range-topping 135i xDrive model the grille’s classical bars are replaced by a prominent 3D mesh design inspired by racing cars.

A striking shoulderline gives the car a planted stance on the road. The headlights are now angled and are optionally available as LEDs, in adaptive guise if owners desire, while the wide rear lights are also optionally offered as LEDs.

New digital interface and the choice of touch, gesture or voice control. Picture: SUPPLIED
New digital interface and the choice of touch, gesture or voice control. Picture: SUPPLIED

For the first time the 1 Series will be available with an electric panoramic roof. The interior has adopted more high-quality materials, and optional backlit trim strips with six switchable colours.

The optional infotainment features of the new BMW Operating System 7.0 is via two digital displays that mimic the BMW kidney grille. Also available is larger, full-colour, 23cm BMW Head-Up Display — available as an option for the first time on the BMW 1 Series.

Drivers can interact with the car in an array of different ways including iDrive, a touchscreen, gesture control, or voice control through the Intelligent Personal Assistant which is awoken by uttering “Hey BMW”.

There will be four equipment lines, with the base Advantage model joined by Luxury, Sport, and M Sport lines.

Three diesel engines and two petrol variants will be available from launch, ranging in power output from from 85kW in the 116d to 225kW in the M135i xDrive.

Only the 118i and M135 will initially make it to SA, with diesels possibly following later.

The M135i xDrive dispatches 0 to 100 km/h in a claimed 4.8 seconds (4.7 seconds with M Performance package) on the way to a governed top speed of 250 km/h.

The 118i will come standard with a six-speed manual or optionally a seven-speed dual-clutch Steptronic while the M135i employs an eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission.

Assistance systems that have filtered down to the new 1 Series from more expensive BMWs include collision and pedestrian warning with city braking function, which also alerts the driver to the presence of cyclists. Also fitted as standard is the Lane Departure Warning system with active lane return.

Options include Active Cruise Control and Stop & Go function, plus the Driving Assistant which comprises the Lane Change Warning system, rear collision warning and crossing traffic warning.

Parking assistance includes the ability for the car self-steer itself in reverse for up to 50m along exactly the same line it took when moving forward.

The 1 Series is also available with the option of the BMW Digital Key which enables users to lock and unlock the vehicle from a smartphone.