- Published: Sunday, 22 March 2015 08:44
Lisbon, Portugal -
Is that new?
Yes and it’s quite obvious. The 1 Series has reached its mid-life cycle so now it gets a new look and more equipment. LED head and taillights (now standard across the range) allow for slimmer units and reshaped front and rear bumpers/intakes to fit. Those who liked the quirky, distinctive look of the old one will mourn, though.
Right. So is it a lot different?
Like the new 6 series which we drove at the same event, there are no major mechanical changes. Unlike the 6 Series though, the 1 Series was solid through and through and the range-topping M135i was the solid-est of the lot.
Yes we knew that, anything useful to add?
Sorry, you must read CarBuyer a lot then. Aside from the hot hatch, the next-gen engine family now finds its way into the 1 Series. It includes 1.5-litre three-cylinder and 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines in gasoline and diesel versions that have already debuted in the new Mini and 2 Series Active Tourer.
The big news for Singapore is the 116d, with the triple-cylinder layout in turbodiesel and 120bhp, meaning there’s finally a BMW that can be registered with a cheaper Category A COE. There’s also a 116i with 109bhp from the 1.5-litre triple cylinder engine, but it only comes with a manual gearbox.
Oh, ok. Now tell us about this beauty…
The engine has slightly more power, not that it needed it, really. But we got to know it much better, as the test unit was a manual version.
It’s a doddle to drive at low speed, with the light, progressive clutch action and automatic hill-hold too. While the stick shift itself is disappointingly sticky at times, it’s very pleasing to get right and you realise just how flexible and torquey the engine is. It’ll pull like a train from 3,000rpm to illegal in any gear, and you can be really lazy, throw it in third and do everything from 15km/h onwards. It even chugs uphill at just over 1,000rpm. You’ll often forget what gear you’re in and old-school taxi drivers wish they could have an engine like this.
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How about round the bends?
The more there are, the more you’ll grin. With an adaptive damper setup by M, the M135i is ferociously quick everywhere and most at home on mountain ribbons of tarmac. The difference between modes isn’t as contrasting as on the new 6 Series, but it doesn’t need to be: With such a competent fundamental ride and handling setup, it’s fast and easy to manage everywhere.
How else will it make you grin?
Well it’ll fit four adults easily, in five or three-door guise. Now iDrive is standard with a 6.5-inch display, as well as BMW’s nifty ConnectedDrive system, plus more colour and trim choices across the range.
What’s the ‘but’?
Good as it is, this is the swan song for the rear-wheel drive 1 Series. The next model, due in 2018, will be a less expensive, FWD one based on BMW’s compact car platform (see Mini, 2AT again). According to a 2010 survey, 80 percent of 1 Series buyers thought their car was FWD. Precisely because they weren’t driving an M135i, we presume.
NEED TO KNOW
Engine 2,979cc, 16V, inline 6, turbocharged
Power 326bhp at 5800-6000rpm
Torque 450Nm at 1300-4500rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
Top Speed 250km/h
0-100kmh 4.9 seconds
Fuel efficiency 8.0L/100km
Also Consider: Audi S3 Sportback, Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG, VW Golf R
For more information flip to the CarBuyer Guide