What is it?
It’s a 1-series with three doors and, at the same time as it’s introduced to the UK (May 2007), a range of improvements will also be made to the five-door 1-series. So it’s a mid-life facelift, really.
What’s it like?
We’ve always appreciated the 1-series for the way it drives, if not its lack of roominess. So at a stroke, having only three doors seems to enhance and amplify the dynamic appeal of the 1-series, suggesting that driving, not practicality, is the high point on the agenda. Which, granted, is a slightly superficial way of looking at it, but it works for us.
Underneath though, the 1-series three-door is the same as the five-door. The facelift includes new headlight surrounds and a more pronounced spoiler, but when I tell you that BMW says ‘certainly not least’ of the changes are different-shaped front foglights, you’ll get an idea of how minor the exterior alterations are. There are new materials in the (still undersized) interior, too.
Mechanically this is a traditional BMW-type upgrade – improve a hundred things by one per cent, rather than one thing by 100 per cent. The biggest change is the adoption of latest-generation direct injection for the petrol engines – it makes a heck of a difference to economy and power.