BMW is planning to launch up to six variants of its new 1-series as it sets about establishing itself in Europe’s fast growing premium small-car class.
So far, BMW has only unveiled the five-door hatchback, which goes on sale this autumn. It will be joined by a three-door hatchback, cabriolet, coupé and estate – all depicted in our artist’s impressions – and perhaps even a compact MPV in coming years, 1-series project leader Gerd Schuster told Autocar. Five-door hatchback: September 2004
Spearheading the 1-series range at launch in September is the recently revealed five-door. Driven by Autocar in prototype form last month, the baby BMW will be priced from £15,500 to around £20,000. The 1-series will be unique in the small-car segment with BMW’s continuing reliance on rear-wheel drive. Although it heavily compromises cabin space, it should make the One the best-handling small car on sale. Our brief first drive confirmed that it will indeed set a new class standard.
Engines on offer will include 114bhp 1.6 (116i) and 148bhp 2.0-litre (120i) four-cylinder petrol units. Diesels choices are a pair of 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged common-rail engines delivering 121bhp in low boost form (118d) and a solid 161bhp in the 120d. BMW will add at least one six-cylinder engine to the 1-series, although this is unlikely to happen until ’06.
The five-door begins a new chapter in BMW’s controversial design book. It mixes the now-familiar convex and concave surfacing in a new, smaller package – carving a distinctive look in the premium small-car sector. Other derivatives will share its design language and BMW hopes it will work to steal sales away from more sober rivals, such as the Audi A3 and VW Golf.
Inside, the One will be more conventional, with a clean, Z4-inspired dashboard and minimal clutter. A simplified version of BMW’s iDrive multi-function controller will be offered on higher-spec models.