9 February 2005

BMW is readying the first of a new generation of mega-hatches with the hottest 1-series yet, the 130i. Pencilled in for UK delivery in July, following a premiere at next month’s Geneva Motor Show, the £24k 130i uses BMW’s new 3.0-litre in-line six.

With 258bhp at 6600rpm and 221lb ft of torque at 2500rpm, the lightweight unit (right) is claimed to propel the 130i to 62mph in 6.2sec and on to a limited 155mph in six-speed manual guise – potentially putting it head to head with the next Golf R32. Externally, there are few clues to the power under the 130i’s bonnet: there’s a chrome grille, twin tailpipes and unique 17in alloys shod with 205/50 profile tyres. Inside, there are sport seats, a leather steering wheel and bespoke instruments.

Meanwhile, BMW said the 1-series has received a maximum five-star rating in recent Euro NCAP crash testing. The news will come as a relief to high-ranking Munich officials, who were stunned when the larger and supposedly safer 5-series was awarded only four stars after a re-test last year, bringing into question the safety of its much-praised aluminium and steel hybrid construction.

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Golf Plus

The Volkswagen Golf Plus offers extra space but little in the way of added versatility. Is that enough?

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