The first BMW 1 Series was first introduced into the market back in 2004 as it replaced the 3 Series compact. Since then the 1 series has grown in popularity with the production of about 2.5 million with only the first two generations, with most of its popularity being in Europe. Since the first generation, the 1 series has had a lot of advancements making it increasingly one of the highly preferred cars in this segment.
We recently had the opportunity to test new beast (all intend) at an exclusive media preview drive of the BMW M Festival which took place this past weekend at Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit. Noticeable changes on the exterior of new 1 series include the more shark-like pronounced front, sharper angled headlights and a larger kidney grille which has become synonymous with the new BMW models.
The back is a lot smoother and curvier versus the previous generations. While the design is fresh, it still looks unmistakably BMW. The car can be had with a panoramic roof and backlit trim strips.
The BMW M135i xDrive has a great sporty appeal with its air intake pockets in the front and rear bumper. The interior is made up of various superior quality materials to give it its high end finish. The car comes standard with an 8.8 inch display with touchscreen functionality and there is an option of controlling the multimedia with seven different gestures.
Driving the BMW 118i that pushes out 103kW and 220Nm of torque compared to the M135i xDrive that has 225kw and 450Nm of torque, it’s noticeable that the switch to front wheel handles very differently. This could be because we are so accustomed to BMW being rear wheel drive. The 118i is exceptionally quick, however we noticed that the car does tremble when accelerating and it shifts gears, this could be attributed to all that power going to the front wheels.
The car does have a little bit of understeering around bends but nothing that could hinder drivability. Besides those two points there was nothing that really stood out that made me dislike the BMW 1 series. The drive is outstanding and as for that front wheel drive will take some getting used to.
The all-new 1 Series promises more interior space than the outgoing version, particularly for rear-seat passengers. The car comes in a 5-door model only and is 5mm shorter than the predecessor at 4,319 mm, 34mm wider at 1,799mm, and 34mm taller at 1,434mm. The new 1 Series also has a 20mm longer wheelbase at 2,670mm.
The BMW 1 series also comes with the option of two new smartphone features which are the BMW Digital Key which enables the locking and unlocking and starting of the vehicle using your smartphone and the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant that allows one to wake the system with the prompt “Hey BMW”, drivers can access functions and information by speaking. These two features are already available in the X7 and 3 Series we previously saw at launch.
Overall, the BMW 1 series is fantastic car with loads of optional extras to make it truly your 1 series. Pricing begins at R479 000 and vehicles are already on dealership floors.
Words & Photography by Tshego Mmahlatji
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