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Car reviews - BMW - 1 Series - 5-dr hatch range

Overview

The cheaper second-generation BMW 1 Series hatch still handles sweetly

BMW logo11 Oct 2011

By MIKE COSTELLO

BMW’S second-generation 1 Series – codenamed F20 – has arrived to lure more would-be prestige buyers into the German marque.

The baby of the BMW range retains the brand’s trademark rear-wheel drive – the only car in this compact class to do so – but is longer and wider with a more muscular styling that combines to give the five-door hatchback a more purposeful look on the road.

While the body might be bigger and more spacious, the all-new four-cylinder petrol engine that powers two of the three variants on offer at launch has been downsized and turbocharged to meet BMW’s obligations to curb fuel consumption.

This 1.6-litre engine comes in two states of tune – a base 100kW variant for the new entry-level 116i, and a 125kW for the new 118i. The 2.0-litre diesel engine has been carried over in the 118d, but gets a shot of extra torque.

All engines come with a six-speed manual gearbox or optional eight-speed automatic – another first in this class.

The question is: how does it all come together as a package?
Model release date: 1 October 2011 to 1 May 2015

Previous model

1 Series

Released: October 2004
Ended: September 2011
Family Tree: 1 Series

THE arrival of the 1 Series in 2004 marked the return of BMW to small-car motoring, but unlike some of its rivals BMW did not dump its cherished rear-wheel drive format just because it was designing a compact car.

So the E87 1 Series five-door hatchback took up a unique position as the only RWD compact prestige car on the market. This, along with an array of other BMW assets such as ideal 50:50 weight distribution, sophisticated Z-axle rear suspension and quick-witted steering, marked the smallest BMW as a true driver’s car.

First 1 Series off the rank was the 120i, powered by a 110kW/200Nm 2.0-litre Valvetronic four-cylinder engine attached to either a six-speed manual or six-speed Steptronic sequential-shift automatic.

A five-speed manual/six-speed auto 118i followed from February ’05, retaining the 2.0-litre configuration but offering 95kW and 180Nm due to a detuning of the twin-cam 16-valve engine. A month later the base 116i five-speed manual arrived, using a 95kW/150Nm version of the 2.0-litre Valvetronic motor.

In early ’06 the storming 130i arrived, bringing BMW six-cylinder power (195kW) and torque (315Nm) to the able 1 Series chassis. At the other end of the spectrum the turbo-diesel 120d lobbed soon after, with a 115kW/330Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit capable of returning 6.6L/100km fuel economy.

In May 2008, BMW added two new body styles. The E82 Coupe and E88 Convertible employed the same basic architecture as the hatch, but featured all-new bodywork. These models carry on, but have been recently facelifted.

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