BMW ownership will become a whole lot cheaper next October when the eagerly awaited 1-series goes on sale in the UK as a three-or five-door hatchback. A four-door saloon arrives later.
Munich sources suggest a worldwide potential of at least 250,000 annual sales by the middle of the decade, with around 30,000 in the UK. To put that in perspective, that’s less than half last year’s global 3-series sales of 561,249.
The 1-series’ design adheres closely to BMW’s open-top CS1 concept car. Autocar’s scoop photographs confirm the new look, with BMW’s signature kidney grille and ‘Hofmeister kick’ at the base of the C-pillar, but also more radical convex and concave surfacing that should sit well with younger buyers.
What will make the 1-series stand out from every premium rival is its rear-drive layout – something BMW’s head of R&D, Burkhardt Goeschel, claims will provide razor-sharp handling. If he’s right, the One could set the new standard among hatchbacks.
However, this longitudinal engine layout and prop shaft gobble up valuable interior space, and rear accommodation in particular is said to be poor compared with front-drive competitors. This is compounded by a low-slung sporty stance – the car sits 80mm lower than a Golf. Boot space stretches to 300 litres.
Underneath, the new car shares more than 40 per cent of its componentry with the next 3-series, including its MacPherson strut (front) and trapezoidal link (rear) suspension, as well as its axle assemblies, braking system and wiring harness.
Power for BMW’s new entry-level model comes from two different versions of the familiar 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine produced at the Hams Hall factory in the Midlands. It kicks out 105bhp in the 116i and 120bhp in the 118i.