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BMW slashes 130i hatch pricing by nearly $5000

Still here: Revised 130i hatch sheds bi-Xenons and power driver's seat.

A $4800 price slash sees the 130i hatch live on alongside its 1 Series Coupe sibling

22 Apr 2008

BMW has revealed that it almost considered killing off the six-cylinder version of its E87 1 Series hatchback in Australia.

Speaking at the launch of that car’s E82 1 Series Coupe sibling last week, BMW Australia communications manager Toni Andreevski admitted that the company weighed up the decision to continue offering the 130i Sport hatch after the arrival of the similarly priced 125i and 135i Sport two-door range.

“We did look at (the impact of the 125i Coupe and 135i Coupe) and asked ourselves, ‘Is there room in the marketplace for the 130i hatch?’” Mr Andreevski said.

The solution was for BMW Australia to drop the entry-level price of its sole six-cylinder 1 Series hatch model by almost $5000 early last month, sending it below $60,000 for the first time since 130i Sport’s launch in November 2005.

This involved the banishment of the previously standard bi-Xenon headlights and full electric driver’s seat adjustment to the options list, that sees the 130i’s recommended retail price slide from $63,700 to $58,900. The six-speed automatic version has fallen from $66,500 to $61,700.

Furthermore, to increase the car’s appeal to the hot-hatch crowd, BMW has enlarged the 130i’s wheels and tyres from a 17-inch to an 18-inch package.

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“The final decision we came up with was to upgrade the wheel package on the 130i, and target that car more at the sports enthusiast hatch buyer... and we provided a little bit more value,” Mr Andreevski said.

“We looked at would it be better for them to be given the opportunity to option some comfort features... and give them a better starting price.

“Obviously, that decision was taken with the view of the 1 Series Coupe arriving, and the decision was either to drop that car or continuing it.

“But I think that focusing that car more at the hot-hatch sort of buyer and bringing that into an under-$60,000 price range puts into pretty good competition with some of our competitor products,” he said.

The 130i Sport manual’s new price places it within $2500 of the Volkswagen Golf R32 five-door hatch manual and $1000 below that of the recently released Subaru Impreza WRX STi.

Dropping the hatch’s price also moves it closer to the 125i Coupe – which opens at $54,400 – than the $71,400 135i Sport.

As BMW believes the latter will be the Coupe range’s best-seller, it says that realigning the 130i Sport’s specification will give the newcomer flagship a better chance for survival.

Nevertheless, as all three 1 Series variations share a similar 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder specification (albeit one of disparate power and torque outputs, with the 195kW/315Nm hatch evenly flanked by the 160kW/270Nm and 225kW/400Nm numbers offered by the 125i and 135i Sport Coupes respectively), BMW is prepared for some sales swapping between the two bodystyles.

“There would be some cannibalisation (between the hatch and the coupe),” Mr Andreevski said. “At the end of the day we need to make the decision – how many different products do we need to offer?“It was either (dropping the 130i Sport hatch’s price) or not continue that car.”

Last year, BMW sold 164 130i Sports in Australia. It expects to shift between 400 and 500 coupes in the remaining seven months of 2008, with the 135i Sport accounting for at least 50 per cent of those.

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