Tweaks put this hatch on front row of the grid for keen driv­ers

The re­vised 1 Se­ries con­tin­ues to fly the flag for BMW in the premium hatch mar­ket. Andy En­right takes a look.

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - FEATURES -

BMW is never a pre­dictable com­pany. The styling of the lat­est 1 Se­ries has proven con­tro­ver­sial but if you value a qual­ity drive over a pretty face, it’s the very first car you’d turn to. Now more ef­fi­cient, more spa­cious and more lux­u­ri­ous, it looks set to con­tinue its record of suc­cess.

There aren’t many com­pa­nies that are more fun for a mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ist to re­port on than BMW. Where most of the big car com­pa­nies are deeply con­ser­va­tive, BMW isn’t afraid of lead­ing the mar­ket with bold de­signs, in­trigu­ing in­no­va­tions and some projects that just have you won­der­ing how they ever got the green light.

Even BMW usu­ally fol­lows a pat­tern in­so­far as its bigselling mod­els, the 1, 3 and 5 se­ries, are gen­er­ally more soberly styled than its niche coupés and con­vert­ibles but ev­ery now and then the Mu­nich com­pany pitches us some­thing that keeps us on our toes. It did so with the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion 5 Se­ries and the lat­est 1 Se­ries hatch­back is an­other ve­hi­cle that has whipped up a storm of con­tro­versy.

The front end styling is cer­tainly chal­leng­ing and is tough to ig­nore, but let’s look be­yond that for a mo­ment and con­cen­trate on the 1 Se­ries’ other at­tributes, some of which are well worth in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

The 1 Se­ries has al­ways been dis­tin­guished by the qual­ity of its driv­ing dy­nam­ics and it’s good to see that BMW hasn’t been tempted to com­pro­mise on its prin­ci­ples. Although there has been ru­mour of four-wheel drive mod­els for for­eign mar­kets, the UK se­lec­tion is res­o­lutely rear-wheel drive. The chas­sis bal­ance re­mains as good as ever but a wider track than its pre­de­ces­sor (51mm at the front and 71mm at the rear) makes this car even more planted through cor­ners.

The en­gines have been given a re­fresh with a choice of two in­no­va­tive four-cylin­der petrol en­gines and three re­designed four-cylin­der diesel units. The tur­bocharged BMW 118i pro­duces a max­i­mum out­put of 170hp at 4,800rpm, punch­ing from zero to 62mph in 7.4 sec­onds, go­ing on to a max­i­mum speed of 140mph. The 116i also fea­tures a twin-scroll turbo, mak­ing a more modest 136bhp but will still zip through the sprint to 62 in a spry 8.5 sec­onds.

One con­se­quence of run­ning a trans­mis­sion tun­nel through a com­pact hatch has in­evitably been rather com­pro­mised ac­com­mo­da­tion. While this fun­da­men­tal is­sue hasn’t gone away, BMW has loos­ened the 1 Se­ries’ belt a lit­tle. It’s 83mm longer, 14mm wider and 30mm longer in the wheel­base than the car it re­places. This means that rear-seat pas­sen­gers ben­e­fit from a fur­ther 20mm of legroom. In ad­di­tion, there’s a good deal more stor­age space, with large front door pock­ets, two cup hold­ers on the cen­tre con­sole and a roomy glove com­part­ment. And there’s 30 litres more lug­gage space com­pared to its fore­run­ner, tak­ing the to­tal to 360 litres.

Build qual­ity seems to have im­proved as well, with more sub­stan­tial plas­tics used through­out.

Fold the 60/40 split rear seats flat and this can be in­creased to a max­i­mum of 1,200-litres.

Build qual­ity seems to have im­proved as well, with more sub­stan­tial plas­tics used through­out. BMW’S muchim­proved idrive sys­tem fea­tures on all mod­els from SE level and now fea­tures a higher def­i­ni­tion 6.5 inch flat screen. The shark-nosed ex­te­rior styling takes a bit of get­ting used to, but most would agree that the pro­file now looks a lot cleaner, with the banana curve of the old car’s sills be­ing straight­ened while the rear end looks a good deal more mus­cu­lar with ti­dier de­tail­ing.

BMW’S en­try-level trim specs have never been par­tic­u­larly gen­er­ous but the lat­est 1 Se­ries isn’t too bad in this re­gard. Ex­pect to find satin sil­ver in­te­rior trim and Move cloth seats, a leather-trimmed steer­ing wheel, chrome ex­haust and key­less start. Step up to SE spec­i­fi­ca­tion and high­lights in­clude idrive, a Blue­tooth hands-free fa­cil­ity with USB au­dio in­ter­face and a mul­ti­func­tion leather steer­ing wheel with a speed lim­iter func­tion.

The Sport trim level fea­tures sports seats, a leather sports steer­ing wheel, high-gloss black in­te­rior trim with Coral Red or grey ac­cents, 17-inch star-spoke al­loy wheels, dark chrome ex­haust pipe and high-gloss black kid­ney grille, a cen­tral air in­take trim, side in­take sur­rounds and rear bumper trim.

An­other badge that might not be so fa­mil­iar is Ur­ban which re­lates to the model with Metro cloth/leather seats, leather sports steer­ing wheel and an acrylic glass in­te­rior trim in black or white with Ox­ide Sil­ver ac­cents.

The ex­te­rior is fin­ished with 17-inch V-spoke al­loy wheels and a chrome kid­ney grille with white slat sides and trim bar for the cen­tral air in­take.

No car man­u­fac­turer has made quite such im­pres­sive progress as BMW when it comes to im­prov­ing ef­fi­ciency. It will there­fore come as no huge sur­prise to learn that which­ever 1 Se­ries you opt for, it can turn in some im­pres­sive econ­omy and emis­sions fig­ures.

Ef­fi­cient­dy­nam­ics, BMW’S suite of en­ergy-sav­ing fea­tures, con­tin­ues with an Auto Start-stop func­tion avail­able on both man­ual and au­to­matic trans­mis­sions. An ECO PRO mode, ac­ti­vated us­ing the Drive Per­for­mance Con­trol, is a new fea­ture on BMW’S that ad­justs var­i­ous on-board sys­tems to max­imise ef­fi­ciency.

When in ECO PRO mode the throt­tle re­sponse is ad­justed to en­cour­age a more eco­nom­i­cal driv­ing style. The ex­tra econ­omy cre­ated in ECO PRO mode is fed back to the driver, with the in­car dis­plays show­ing the additional num­ber of miles achieved.

You’ll be able to mea­sure your­self against the 47.9mpg com­bined fig­ure of the thirsti­est of the lot, the 118i, the 49.6mpg of the 116i or the 62.8mpg of the diesel ver­sions.

All of the diesels dip un­der the 120g/km thresh­old for car­bon diox­ide while the 116i and 118i record 132 and 137g/ km re­spec­tively.

If pre­vi­ously con­tro­ver­sial BMWS are any­thing to go by, the rather di­vi­sive styling of the lat­est 1 Se­ries will get eas­ier on the eye over time, where­upon buy­ers will learn to love it for its en­gi­neer­ing and driv­ing dy­nam­ics.

It’s cer­tainly hard to ar­gue with the changes BMW has wrought. Aes­thet­ics aside, the faults with the old car were easy to iden­tify. It was too cramped in the back, it didn’t ride smoothly enough and the in­te­rior fin­ish didn’t match the class best. Con­sider that to do list ticked off.

Although much has changed, the 1 Se­ries re­mains the de­fault choice for those crav­ing a premium hatch with un­cor­rupted steer­ing, great chas­sis bal­ance and bril­liant ef­fi­ciency.

BIG­GER IN­SIDE: BMW has loos­ened the 1 Se­ries’ belt a lit­tle. This means that rear-seat pas­sen­gers ben­e­fit from a fur­ther 20mm of legroom.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.