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.

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Our Verdict

Volkswagen Golf Plus

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

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week