New BMW 1 Series: Major changes for BMW’s baby

BMW has pulled the wraps off the third-generation 1 Series, and it will bring with it improved rear legroom and new tech when it arrives in Singapore at the end of this year.

Photos: BMW


The all-new, third-generation BMW 1 Series will be officially launched globally at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show in September, and for the first time, the baby BMW will switch to a front-wheel-drive (FWD) architecture, abandoning the rear-wheel-drive setup that has underpinned the previous two generations of 1 Series models.

The move will result in better overall packaging, translating to more space for rear passengers and boot capacity, despite being shorter in length than the outgoing version. Wheelbase has been reduced by 20mm and overall length by 5mm. However, rear legroom has been increased by 33mm, while boot space is up by 20 litres to 380 litres, in part contributed by the 1 Series’ increased width and height (by 34mm and 13mm respectively). The new 1 Series will also only be available in five-door hatchback form, with the three-door variant being eliminated for good.

The other significant change to the 1 Series concerns the range-topping M135i model, which will use a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine instead of the previous model’s inline six unit. The engine is effectively the same one seen in the X2 M35i, and churns out 306bhp and 450Nm of torque, good for a 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.8 seconds. The hot 1 will also come with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system as standard.

READ MORE: Want a preview of the new M135i’s drivetrain? The similarly-engined X2 M35i (above) is already here in Singapore.

It is one of the two engines that have been confirmed with Singapore thus far, with the other being the 118i, which uses a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol turbo with 140bhp and 220Nm of torque. BMW has not confirmed if the 116d diesel version, which sold extremely well over here in the pre-VES days thanks to its Cat A power rating and significant CEVS rebate, will make a return. For now though, Singaporean drivers will have to contend with the two petrol models when the new 1 Series arrives here in the fourth quarter of this year.

READ MORE: We drove the BMW 116d, Singapore’s only Cat A BMW, way back when things were less complicated

Despite its status as BMW’s entry level model, the new 1 Series boasts some clever tech under its skin. It features the same ARB (actuator contiguous wheel slip limitation) technology that was first seen in the BMW i3S, and allows wheel slip to be controlled much more sensitively and swiftly. Actuator contiguous wheel slip limitation works in close tandem with the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system to reduce understeer, giving the 1 Series safe and secure handling manners,  and is standard on both the front-wheel-drive and xDrive all-wheel-drive variants.

Other innovations include optional features first seen on more premium BMW models like the new 3 Series. These include the BMW Digital Key, which allows for locking and unlocking of the car with a smartphone using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, and the BMW Intelligent Assistant, which can recognise and respond to verbal commands spoken in a conversational style (like, “Hey BMW, I’m feeling warm” to turn on the air con).

Likewise the parking assist function with reversing assistant, and driver assistance features such as lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and active cruise control, will all be available on the 1 Series as options.

CarBuyer will be scoring an exclusive first drive of the new 1 Series in Munich in early July, so keep your eyes out for any updates right here.

In the meantime, check out what its recently-released arch rival from Stuttgart, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, has to offer.

READ MORE: This is what the new BMW 118i will have to contend with in Singapore, the $168,000 Mercedes-Benz A200

about the author

Ben Chia
CarBuyer's senior staff writer went out to explore the Great Big World, including a stint working in China (despite his limited Mandarin). Now he's back, ready to foist upon you his takes on everything good and wonderful about the automotive world. Follow Ben on Instagram @carbuyer.ben