The BMW 1 Series keeps pace with its rivals and adopts traction instead of rear-wheel drive. It also displays a new style which is the consequence of the use of the UKL platform which requires a transverse installation of the engines (no more six cylinders under the hood). The hood is very short, minivan style, the beltline is higher and the car is taller. In front, there are Full Led spotlights as standard and a typical BMW grille with two imposing beans that mark the new stylistic trend of the house.

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Average roominess

With the engine in a transverse position and more rear-wheel drive, you'd expect the livability of this compact sedan to improve. Well, not really. If the Munich brand has managed to increase the legroom and headroom of the rear seat passengers by a few millimeters, the BMW Series is in the market average with ratings close to that of the Mercedes Class A, as for the trunk volume, it stands at 380 liters, which is not exceptional. All the more so, in order to obtain this value, one must take into account the space of 60 liters located under the boot floor. We expected a better pity.

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Assertive modernity

In the passenger compartment, on the most upscale (or optional) versions, we find a 10.25-inch digital instrumentation, a large 10.25-inch infotainment screen as well. For entry-level and mid-range finishes, you'll have to make do with analog meters and an 8.8-inch screen. The cockpit of the BMW 1 Series is copied from that of the BMW 3 Series. The environment exudes sobriety, the presentation and the build quality are of a high standard. Well out of date, the BMW 1 Series is filling up with driving aids, becoming more connected and, like the Mercedes A-Class, has a “Hey BMW” personal assistant. You can also manage certain equipment by gesture controls, use the Auto Reverse system of Park Assist, which automatically reverses (over fifty meters) the route that the car has just made in forward gear. However, it will often be necessary to delve into the catalog of options to get the high-tech equipment that makes us dream. Note that for the first time, the BMW 1 Series can receive a panoramic glass roof, an option billed at € 1,150.

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Technology that makes sense

It is in order to keep costs as low as possible and to streamline production that the BMW brand has decided to equip its new BMW 1 Series with the common BMW 2 Series – Mini platform and to switch to traction. In order not to offend propulsion fans, BMW has done everything to erase understeer by installing ARB technology as standard. This makes it possible to limit the slipping of the front wheels thanks to a torque distributor integrated directly into the engine control unit, and not in the computer of the dynamic stability control system. Slip Limiting works in conjunction with the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system to significantly reduce the tendency to understeer typical of traction.

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More comfortable and less fun

Behind the wheel, this translates into a balanced and considerate chassis, like a Mercedes A-Class. The car is still dynamic and efficient, but is a little less fun to drive. The most significant gain with this new architecture being comfort. We can also talk about a gain in motor skills thanks to ARB technology. With direct and precise steering, a multi-link rear axle as standard, the BMW 1 Series is easy to register in bends and does not deviate from the trajectory, remaining firmly planted on its supports. Of course to get all the quintessence of the chassis it will be necessary to opt for a powerful engine. Leaving aside the entry-level engines (116i of 109 hp and 116 d of 116 hp), from the 118i of 136 hp and 118 d of 150 hp we can start to have fun at the wheel. Then the power level increases with the 120i of 178 hp and the 120 d of 190 hp. While the sports 128ti versions with 265 hp (traction with Torsen mechanical differential and 8 automatic gearbox), and M135i xDrive with 306 hp (four-wheel drive and 8 automatic gearbox) are there to appeal to the most sporty drivers.

Finally, in terms of price, the Munich brand with its BMW 1 Series is not innovating and the five-door sedan (the only bodywork available now) is based on the prices of its rivals Audi A3 and Mercedes Class A.

The BMW 1 Series in ten points

  • Sedan, five doors, five seats
  • Dimensions (L x W x H in meters): 4.32 x 1.80 (folded mirrors) x 1.44
  • Boot space: 320 liters (+ 60 liters under the boot floor) or 380 liters
  • Petrol engines: 116 i 109 hp, 118i 136 hp, 120i 178 hp, 128ti 265 hp, M135i 306 hp
  • Diesel engines: 116 d of 116 hp, 118 d of 150 hp, 120 d of 190 hp
  • Four-wheel drive version xDrive as standard on the M135i and optional on the 120d
  • Six-speed manual transmission for the 116i, 118i, 116 d, 118 d, 7-speed auto for the 120i, 8-speed auto for 128ti, M135i and 120 d. 7-speed auto optional on 116i, 118i and 116 d, 8-speed auto optional on 118 d.
  • Five finishes: Series 1, Lounge, Sport Edition, M Sport, Business Design (reserved for professionals)
  • Two exclusive finishes: 125ti and M135i
  • Price: from 24,850 € (Diesel: 27,600 €)