MOTOR’s editor, Ray Leathern, is on the frontlines, bringing you the reveals that matter from this year’s IAA motor show in Frankfurt. Take a first look at the controversial new BMW 1 Series.
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After a strong nine-year run, the second-generation (F20) BMW 1 Series production run has finally come to a halt. Unlike many in its highly competitive segment, the premium hatchback stood out from the crowd by offering a longitudinal engine up front and, joy of joys, rear-wheel drive.
With its replacement we’re seeing for the first time in Frankfurt, the new (F40) 1 Series has changed the formula, making use of Bavarian firm’s UKL2 platform, shared with the X1 and Mini Countryman, meaning the 1 Series is now front-wheel drive. It is 5 mm shorter than before, but taller and wider.
The result of this new packaging is a more spacious and practical cabin aimed at taking on tough competition in the segment in the form of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf of course. Headroom, legroom, shoulder room and overall stowage capacity are all boosted significantly over the previous model.
There are four equipment levels to choose from, offering a little something for everyone: Luxury line, Sport line, Shadow line and M Sport are the options. There’s also one flagship model for now, the M135i with xDrive all-wheel drive and it seems to have some solid hot-hatch credentials not forcing enthusiastic 1 Series drivers looking elsewhere.
A 2.0-litre turbo produces a Golf R-baiting 225 kW/450 Nm. It looks purposeful, too, but we’re not convinced about the new lager kidney grill that now merges the two sides in the middle of the nose. Seeing it in the metal, we have to say, on the Frankfurt show floor, has not settled the argument in our minds.