The 1 is really as fast as you’re likely to want a 601bhp grand tourer to be in outright terms, but its performance isn’t at all typical of the fast continent-crossing GT breed.
Moreover, neither the car’s outright pace nor its richness turns out to be what is most appealing about the way it covers ground; that’s actually how adaptable and wide-ranging its character is and how different it can feel from one minute, and one journey, to the next.
Departing with fully charged batteries, you can choose from Pure, Hybrid, AWD, Power and Individual driving modes. Pure is for electric- only running, while Hybrid blends in the combustion engine when you get into the accelerator deeply enough; and both Power and AWD burn hydrocarbons almost continually but with different objectives.
Select Power, simply bury the accelerator pedal from rest and the car will hit 60mph in 4.3sec. It’s just a little bit shy of the outright potential of the latest two-door Bentleys, Ferraris and Aston Martins on that score, and also from 30-70mph through the gears. Accelerating from low speeds, at least, it still feels really muscular and responsive, although the seamlessness of that muscularity is conditional on managing the combustion engine a little – rousing the engine and selecting a low gear using the car’s shift paddles before flexing your toe, basically.
Oddly enough, your rate of acceleration from low speeds doesn’t really depend on selected gear much at all. The influence of the car’s electric rear axle can clearly be seen in our in-gear acceleration figures. Getting from 40-60mph takes the 1 around two seconds in third gear – and about the same time in fourth, fifth and sixth.