The shock of BMW going FWD has been softened by earlier UKL2 platform cars taking after BMW’s MINI offerings in recent years, and the X1, X2 and the 2-series MPVs have already shared the MINI DNA for quite some time. Still, this latest 1 Series introduction can be considered a watershed moment as the vehicle takes a step towards the modern school of hatchback design while the new 2 Series coupes align more with the M3 and M4.
BMW mentions packaging benefits as one reason behind the front-wheel-drive layout, with its family hatch doing the re-orientation most competing hatchback offerings did in the early 1980s.
Along with three diesel powerplants ranging from 114 to 188 horsepower, the new 1 Series is offered with two gasoline engines. The more humble of those, the 118i, has a three-cylinder 1.5-liter turbo that provides 140 hp and 162 lb-ft, and takes 8.5 seconds to hit 62 mph. Then there’s the 302-horsepower M135i xDrive, which is able to do the same acceleration run in just 4.8 seconds. BMW says the M Performance package is able to shave a tenth of a second off that achievement. Manual gearboxes are only available for the more basic cars, while there are both seven- and eight-speed Steptronics available in the higher end. The M135i xDrive comes standard with the eight-speed Steptronic Sport box.
Speaking of M Performance, BMW is already discussing forthcoming sport packages. There’s carbon fiber aero, large sports brakes with four-piston calipers up front, M Performance themed wheels and much more.
U.S. availability for the new 1 Series looks unlikely, but the X2 crossover already offers much of the same, just in a taller package – including the aforementioned 306-horsepower engine. We should see this new 1 Series make its official debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.