You could set your watch by BMW’s model renewal cycle. The second-generation BMW 1-series turned up to its Autocar road test almost seven years to the day after the first. We liked the original car enough to award it a four-star rating and were impressed by its excellent performance, mechanical refinement and desirability. But it also disappointed in several key areas.

Despite being four grand cheaper than an equivalent 3-series, it was consistently outsold in the UK by the bigger BMW saloon, not to mention most of its key rivals – and that’s in its second largest global market.

Deputy road test editor
Drive with too much urgency in Eco Pro mode and it tells you to "moderate your acceleration". Wouldn't it be smarter if the mode disengaged with more than 75 per cent throttle?

The baby BMW brought a unique selling point to the premium C-segment – driven rear wheels – but not without compromise. Finding room for a longitudinal engine up front and a transmission tunnel made the car cramped in the rear. In a few areas, it fell short of BMW’s usual standards on cabin quality. Most frustrating of all, it didn’t have the balanced, involving drive we expected from a ‘standard drive’ BMW.

Into which context enters the second-generation 1-series. After a complete redesign and restyle and a through engineering overhaul, can the new 1-series stamp greater authority on what has become Europe’s most important market segment for premium brand players? And does the car now have the compelling dynamics of a class-leading BMW?