It has been 15 years since the first BMW Series 1 rolled off the production line. From the beginning it was a commercial success, even if its design was not what one would have expected from BMW. The second generation of the Series 2 launched in 2011 cemented this slightly aesthetically challenged car as BMW’s best selling model, with one in five BMWs sold being a Series 1.
For its third generation, launched earlier this year, BMW introduced significant changes in its design and ended up with a muscular, sleek car that looks and drives100% BMW. Design changes include a shorter “shark nose”, including a new headlight arrangement and a more wedged shaped silhouette. At the front, the BMW kidney grille is larger and, for the first time in this model range, the kidneys merge in the middle.
The new Series 1 features front wheel drive and a transverse engine instead of front to back. The car has been given a stiffer body to better carry the chasses. A new traction control system provides it with a much faster reaction that its predecessor, and much better grip when pulling away cornering or driving in the wet. I am personally witness to how well the car performs in the wet. The day I tested the Series 1 it rained so much that there were animals in pairs marching up the road.
The BMW 1 Series offers SE, Sport and M Sport trims as well as the range-topping M135i xDrive, all of which differ from one another in both exterior and interior details. SE comes with matt black air guide grilles on the front bumper, while Sport adds exclusive air inlets finished with a high-gloss black, the kidney grille features a chrome frame with high-gloss black struts.
The M Sport features aerodynamic body styling as well as satin aluminium struts in the kidney grille whilst the seat upholstery is in Dakota leather with contrast stitching. The range-topping BMW M135i xDrive incorporates the mesh-design BMW kidney grille and frame, exclusive front bumper air inlet clasps, and wing mirrors all finished in Cerium Grey. Exclusive black high-gloss rear diffuser with mesh design, and side sill covers featuring exclusive M135i xDrive black high-gloss inserts complete the look. Inside there’s the M Sport seat with integrated headrest design finished in Trigon Cloth/Alcantara Anthracite upholstery. The new Series 1 comes only as a five doors vehicle, with two petrol and three diesel engines. Optional features include alloy-wheels up to 19 inches and panoramic roof. BMW offers different optional packages: tech, comfort and sport.
Although the Series 1 looks very compact, the interior is surprisingly ample as it is its boot capacity.
The car is teched up to its eyeballs. Features include comfort access (the car unlocks as you approach it), full colour projection head up display (I love this one!), voice control assistant (Hey BMW!… yes, you can change the name) and an array of driver assistant systems for those who can’t really drive, including lane control and reversing assistant for those garages where pillars have the bad habit of moving.
The instrument cluster is cleverly situated immediately in front of the driver along with the accompanying central Control Display. With the Start/Stop button and gear selector lever now also located in the control panel in the lower section of the centre console, all the controls relating to driving functions are clustered together in one area.
I believe this is a car really punches above its weight and is the perfect partner to go out and about shopping in town or for a little road trip. The standard BMW Stereo sound system with its six speakers and 100-watt amplifier is good enough for me but for the music geeks, a Harman/Kardon surround sound system with 464 watts of audio power and a total of 16 speakers is also available as an option.
To make your journeys even easier, its Connected Navigation services can even tell you parking availability ahead of reaching your destination. If you live in London, that, my friend, is a real asset. Apple CarPlay Preparation is now standard on all new BMW 1 Series models. This service is for one year from build, but then renewable via the BMW ConnectedDrive portal thereafter, at either one year, three years or lifetime subscriptions. Prices starting from £24,430.