BMW’s next 1-series has been spied in public, revealing that the firm’s bread-and-butter model is to be given more rakish styling and extra cabin space.
The current 1-series has long been criticised for cramped, almost supermini-esque packaging and oddball styling. These were factors influenced by the fact that its understructure from the bulkhead rearwards was developed for the stillborn Rover R30 at the end of the 1990s.
With a blank sheet of paper, BMW’s engineers have been working on improving interior space.
This is likely to result in a longer wheelbase that can cope with both this car and the front-wheel-drive model that will follow in 2013. This three-door test car (the rear door line is a fake) reveals that longer wheelbase.
It’s a telltale sign that the 1-series shares much of its platform with the X1, the first model to use a new line of 1-series/3-series components. The test hack also shows a steeply raked windscreen and a roof line that tails off to avoid the blunt tail of the current car.
The next 1-series should be one of the first BMWs to get the firm’s 1.5-litre, three-cylinder diesel and petrol engines. But at the car’s launch, the eco push is likely to be led by an ultra-frugal 1.6-litre oil-burner, equipped with Efficient Dynamics features like stop-start and emitting less than 100g/km of CO2.
Later tech could include an all-electric powerplant — BMW will introduce such a set-up on the 1-series coupé next year. The three-door model and its five-door sister will continue to account for the bulk of 1-series sales.
But BMW is planning a wider range that will include not only successors to today’s coupé and cabriolet but also a baby roadster, the Z2, that will rival the VW Bluesport. BMW is also considering a small estate variant that would offer practicality between the regular hatchback and the X1.