What is it?
The third-generation BMW 1-Series hatchback, which has now landed in the UK. And, while it may not be a widely held opinion of any new BMW right now, I’d say that it looks, more or less, like it ought to.
Because it looks nothing at all like a traditional three-box saloon of the 1980s, of course, some will call this car inauthentic – but I’d bet that few of the younger customers at whom BMW is aiming this car will be among them. For your average 2019 thirty-something car-buyer, after all, a typical modern BMW is an X1, an X3 or perhaps a 2-Series Active Tourer – those being the modern BMWs we now see the most of.
If that typical buyer is familiar with an ‘E34’ 5-Series saloon at all, meanwhile, he’ll probably know no part or facet of it more intimately than his memory can conjure of the patterned cloth on the front seatback. Times, they are a changing – and it’s the job of this car, perhaps more than any other, to change BMW’s customer base.
Were you to point out that the styling robs the 1-Series of some of the old models’ distinctiveness, of course, I wouldn’t argue. But wasn’t that inevitable? The ‘F40’-generation car looks a bit Lexusey from the rear, as the 3-Series does – while the adoption of plenty of wedgy, creasy attitude into the frontal aspect and profile doesn’t set it apart from hatchback rivals quite as clearly as intended. Nevertheless, it’s smart enough and doesn’t offend – not, at least, to my eyes.