BMW’s new Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf rival, the 1 Series hatch, has received a substantial rethink over the outgoing model, sporting a new front-wheel-drive platform and a revised range of petrol and diesel engines.
The 1 Series will use a new front-wheel drive platform called FAAR, which brings some big practicality benefits. Spec for spec, BMW has confirmed the new model is around 20kg lighter than its predecessor and boot capacity has increased from 360 litres to 380 litres.
Interior space has improved also, as the new 1 Series is longer and taller than its predecessor, liberating an extra 20mm of rear seat leg room and head room.
Our exclusive images previews how the new 1 Series could look, while spy shots confirm the new model will feature a more cab-forward design than the current car. As one of BMW’s biggest sellers, the German brand has evolved the hatchback’s styling rather than giving it a dramatic overhaul.
BMW 1 Series: engines and platform
Entry-level 118i models will be powered by a revised version of the turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol from the current MINI, with an output of 138bhp. BMW hasn’t announced the engine’s performance specs but, due to its reduced weight and seven-speed DCT, the new 1 Series should improve on the old model’s 8.7 second 0–62mph time.
Mid-range 120d models get BMW’s familiar 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel, with 190bhp. Unlike the petrol model, it feeds its power through an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission via an optional four-wheel-drive system.
BMW’s range-topping performance-focussed flagship will also undergo a drastic change. The new FAAR platform is only compatible with four-cylinder engines, which means the new M135i will have to ditch BMW’s sonorous straight-six engine in favour of a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol, with 302bhp and 450Nm of torque.
To compensate for the lack of six-cylinder engine noise, BMW will pipe a synthesised engine note into the M135i’s cabin. It will also switch from rear-wheel drive to xDrive four-wheel drive, making it a direct competitor for models such as the Volkswagen Golf R, Mercedes-AMG A 45 and Ford Focus RS.
Other revisions include a wider track, a more rigid body shell (with a ‘boomerang’ rear strut), improved steering response and a revised stability control system, all of which BMW claims will benefit body control and ride quality. Buyers can also spec sport springs and dampers, while M135i models come as standard with a torque-vectoring limited slip differential.
BMW will also use the next 1 Series to broaden its iPerformance line-up. An electrified 1 Series will eventually join BMW’s five other plug-in hybrid models, using a revised version of the powertrain found in the MINI Countryman Cooper S E. Comprising a 1.5-litre turbo petrol and small electric motor, economy figures of around 100mpg and CO2 emissions below 50g/km are likely.
We expect the new BMW 1 Series will reach UK showrooms later this year, with prices starting at around £26,000. New versions of the 2 Series Coupé and Convertible will likely follow towards the end of 2019, with both adopting the same front-wheel-drive layout.
What do you think of the new BMW 1 Series going front-wheel drive? Let us know in the comments…