BMW’s long-serving hatchback is soon to be updated and it marks the most significant turning point in the models entire lifetime. The 1 Series has always been the best handling premium hatchback on the market thanks to the front-engine/ rear-drive setup which helps the car carve up corners and provide genuinely exhilarating visceral feedback to the driver. No other hatchbacks could compete.
Times are changing, though. BMW know that most of their 1 Series customers either don’t know or simply don’t care about the car being rear-wheel-drive, and when the conditions are tricky, there’s no denying the car's performance suffers.
This new model, therefore, will be a front wheel drive car, like many others on the market. The architecture has taken over 5 years to develop, and BMW has put an awful lot of thought into how they’re going to emulate the selling points of the outgoing model in this new platform. At this stage, it looks like BMW are pretty confident. In recent press material, BMW claim that ‘the 1 Series will set new standards in the premium compact class in terms of driving dynamics.’ A very bold claim when you consider it will be rivalling the likes of the new Mercedes A-Class and Audi A3, both of which are dynamically pretty marvellous.
It’s not just going to be a front-wheel-drive hatchback, though, the 1 Series will be available with X-Drive, which is BMWs all-wheel-drive setup. This makes sense as the A3 and A-Class are both also available with all four wheels being powered, commonly in the higher performance models.
The M135i xDrive will be the headline-grabbing model of the new 1 Series range. It will contain a turbocharged 4-cylinder (yes, 4 - not 6) 2-litre petrol engine. Don’t be upset, manufacturers are getting plenty of performance out of their 2.0 litres now. The Mercedes A-Class A45 and A35 models are both 2-litre engine cars too. This BMW unit will be good for a massive 306 horsepower on release, which is 4 horsepower more than the equivalent A35 Mercedes model, so you can’t really complain about being short-changed for power.
Practicality wise, the new 1 Series will actually boast a bigger cabin than the outgoing model, thanks to the front wheel drive architecture there is now a lower centre tunnel, so the back seats are considerably more spacious. Rear seat passengers will actually see an extra 33 millimetres of legroom. The boot is now 20 litres bigger than the outgoing model too, so there’s now 380 litres of loading space - which is 20 litres more than what is on offer in the Mercedes A-Class.
So, what do you think? Would you consider a front wheel drive 1 Series? It should be more capable than the older model as well as more practical, more spacious, and of course, it will come with all of BMWs new in-car technology. No word on pricing yet, expect more on that in the coming months as well as better pictures.