Following the debut of a mildly refreshed 6-Series at the Detroit Auto Show, BMW has unveiled its new 1-Series hatch, which aims to draw buyers in with heavily reworked styling and a range of three and four-cylinder engines from the German brand’s new engine range.
Regardless of what’s under the new 1-Series’ bonnet, BMW’s designers deserve a gold star for turning a fairly bland looking hatch into something with a bit more purpose and flair. Up front, a bigger BMW "kidney grille" and redesigned headlamps present a far more cohesive face than that on the outgoing car, which always looked slightly dopey with its massive headlamps and small grille. Wider taillights, which now include BMW’s traditional “L” shaped detailing, also make the car seem broader and stronger on the road.
Inside, the 1-Series’ interior has been refreshed with extra standard equipment and more personalization options that allows drivers to (for a price) make their car stand out in a crowd. BMW’s 6.5-inch iDrive system is now standard across the range, as is a tire pressure indicator for each individual wheel.
On top of the standard equipment, BMW is offering a range of high-tech options, including radar-based "stop and go" cruise control that will automatically accelerate and brake for you in stop-start traffic, potentially making the commute a far less stressful experience than it once was. Lane departure warning, attention assist and low-speed collision warning systems also are available.
Opening the batting for the new 1-Series range is the petrol-powered 116i. With a turbocharged 1.5-liter, three cylinder engine under the bonnet, the 116i’s 0-100 km/h (62 mph) sprint time of 10.9 seconds isn’t going to set the world on fire, but its 80 kW (109 hp) and 180 Nm (133 lb-ft) of torque do contribute to impressive fuel economy, with combined consumption figures of just 5.4 L/100km (52.3 mpg).
Moving up to the 118i improves performance dramatically while using hardly any extra fuel. Its turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder is enough to send it to 100 km/h in a much more respectable time of 8.5 seconds on its way to its top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph). Fuel economy is pegged at 5.7 L/100km (49.6 mpg) with CO2 emissions of 133 g/km.
Four-cylinder power is also used in the 120i and 125i, both of which offer improved performance over the two entry level models. The 120i’s 1.6-liter engine makes 130 kW (177hp) and 250 Nm (184 lb.ft) for a 0-100 km/h (62 mph) time of 7.4 seconds and fuel use of 6.0 L/100km, while the larger 2.0-liter engine in the 125i uses an extra 0.7 L/100km but will hit 100 km/h 1.2 seconds faster.
While the BMW 120i and 125i both offer marginally better performance, the range topping 1-Series is still the M135i. Its 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line six produces 240 kW (326 hp) and a healthy 450 Nm of torque between 1,300 and 4,500 rpm, which helps the M135i hit 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.9 seconds (identical to the Audi S3) on its way to 250 km/h (155 mph).
If you live in a particularly snowy or wet area, BMW also offers the M135i with its xDrive all-wheel drive system – which also cuts the car’s 0-100 km/h (62 mph) time to 4.7 seconds. As expected, the M135i’s fuel economy does suffer from all this extra performance, with a combined fuel use figure of 8.0 L/100km (35.3 mpg) and CO2 emissions of 188 g/km.
All the petrol engines are relatively economical, but if hypermiling is what you’re into the 1-Series diesel may be more to your liking. Four all-new diesel engines are available, starting with the 1.5-liter, three-cylinder 116d. The 116d uses just 4.1 L/100km (68.9 mpg), or 3.8 L/100km (74.3 mpg) in "EfficientDynamics" guise, and still hits 100 km/h in half a second less than the sluggish 116 petrol.
As with the petrol variants, moving up the 1-Series diesel range brings improved performance at the cost of outright fuel economy. The 2.0-liter, four cylinder 118d will hit 100 km/h in 8.3 seconds, with combined fuel use figures of 4.3 L/100km (65.7 mpg), while the 120d’s 2.0-liter motor will send it to 100 km/h in 7.1 seconds, while using 4.5 L/100km (63 mpg).
The diesel range is topped by the 165 kW (224 hp), 450 Nm (332 lb.ft) 125d, which uses just 4.6 L/100km (61.4 mpg) on its way to a 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.3 seconds.
BMW has not announced details about pricing, nor when the new 1-Series will hit showrooms.