What's it like?
Smart looking, isn’t it? Size-wise, the 1 Series saloon closely matches the old E30 3 Series. Its proportions are nice, and it looks a lot less ungainly than the current 1 Series hatchback for its switch to a transverse engine layout, something previously unthinkable from BMW.
The benefit of that layout is chiefly around interior packaging in making the cabin more spacious, particularly for rear passengers, something so important to maximise for Chinese customers. They’ll be satisfied.
They’ll also be satisfied with the way it drives. What this 1 Series may lack in old-fashioned purity, it more than makes up for it with engagement, as our brief test drive around a test track in China proves.
Front-wheel-drive will make the BMW 1 Series better handling
It feels more agile and lighter on its feet than the current 1 Series hatch, with none of the stodginess in the handling. Turn-in is sharp; there's a strong willingness to change direction. The layout just feels better suited to a car of this size – or rather, BMW has executed it a lot better than with the current model, no matter which wheels are being driven.
The engine is a lovely thing, too: willing to be revved, yet refined with it, and working well with the smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox to allow the driver to access its broad performance range.
Should I buy one?
This’ll have to be a verdict with large number of qualifications, given how limited the test route was and what the car was actually exposed to. Oh, and remember, you can’t even buy one here.
But it’s good, really good, the test having more than enough merit in serving as a rather tasty appetiser to the next 1 Series. On this evidence, BMW is on to a very good thing.
BMW 125i saloon
Where Guangzhou, China On sale na Price 204,800 RMB (£23,300) Engine 4cyls, 1998cc, turbo, petrol Power 228bhp at 5000rpm Torque 258lb ft at 1250rpm Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerb weight na Top speed 155mph 0-62mph 6.8sec Fuel economy 44.1mpg (combined) CO2, tax band 152g/km, 29%