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Driven: Refreshed BMW 1 Series rolls in

1 for the money: BMW has added value to the 1 Series range by upping the standard equipment list and slicing prices on some variants.

BMW looks to catch up to Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class with updated 1 Series

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BMW logo12 Jun 2015

By STUART MARTIN

BMW Australia has launched the mid-life update for its 1 Series range this week, while admitting it has a tough job ahead in bettering its third-place standing in the competitive compact prestige market.

The German car-maker has introduced refreshed styling to its nearly four-year-old hatch range, while adding extra standard gear and dropping the price in a bid to make the range more appealing against strong competition from Audi’s top-selling A3 and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

BMW Group Australia chief executive officer Marc Werner said the new 1 Series would present compact prestige buyers with a compelling option.

“The smaller segment has a lot of volume potential for us, at the moment we don't like to be number three, if you look at the significant upgrade here it doesn't deserve to be number three,” he said.

“That's why we deliberately decided to improve the competitive position of this car. The price-point of the 118i at $36,900, it should be very appealing in particular to those not in a premium brand car.”

Mr Werner said he expected the new 1 Series would bring a lot of new customers to the German marque from mainstream brands as well as other the prestige car-makers.

“It should really be one of the conquest drivers for us.”“The 125i is also at a fantastic price-point to attract Golf GTI customers for example. Overall 1 Series is one of our conquest models, more than 80 per cent of it is conquest sales, it's good to get people into the brand,” he said.

So far, the second-generation 1 Series has brought 7887 sales to the BMW brand since it launched in late 2011, but in recent years, sales have slipped well behind the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

The 1 Series has captured 757 sales year to date, making for a 10.8 per cent share of the segment, while the A3 has found 1945 homes for 27.7 per cent share and Benz has shifted 1754 units of the A-Class for a 25 per cent share.

BMW’s other compact offering, the 2 Series Active Tourer, has overtaken the 1 Series in the premium small-car segment, with 823 sales to the end of May, grabbing an 11.7 per cent share of the segment.

The exterior has been updated with a broader kidney grille, larger air intakes and more slim line headlights, LED daytime running lights and LED tail-lights.

The 118i retains the same 100kW/220Nm 1.6-litre direct-injection variable-valve twin-scroll turbo engine as the now-absent 116i, with a 0-100km/h time of 8.7 seconds and an official combined fuel economy figure of 5.6 litres per 100 kilometres, but BMW Australia has confirmed that it will be available with the same 100kW/220Nm 1.5-litre three-cylinder unit from the 2 Series Active Tourer in the last quarter of the year.

As the range now starts with the 118i, it takes on the old 116i’s $36,900, plus on-road costs pricetag, which includes a reversing camera as standard, along with 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless start, 40/20/40 splitfold rear seat, 360 litres of boot-space (rising to 1200 with seats folded), heated exterior mirrors, cloth trim, real-time traffic information for the satnav, rear parking sensors, climate control, rain-sensing wipers, a sports steering wheel and the eight-speed auto – although if you ask BMW nicely there is a six-speed manual available for special order across the range.

The 1 Series also has the automatic emergency call system as part of the safety system that includes six airbags, stability and traction control, an electronic differential lock and a five-star ANCAP crash test rating.

The 118d possesses a similar features list but starts from $40,300, a drop of $2600 over the outgoing model, and it is still propelled by a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel offering 110kW (up 5kW) and 320Nm from 1500-3000rpm, with a frugal fuel figure of 3.8L/100km.

The 120i has been slotted into the range following the revamp of the entry-level model, and for a $41,900 asking price the wheel size grows to 17 inches and the features list includes an auto-dimming centre mirror, fog-lights, dual-zone climate control, upgraded instrumentation, phone and interior lighting and Sensatec (man-made ‘leather’ in BMW-speak) over the entry grade.

It also uses the 1.6-litre twin-scroll turbo petrol engine, but with 130kW and 250Nm being produced for a 7.2-second 0-100km/h time, but drinks PULP at a rate of 5.7L/100km.

Sports-oriented additions to the features list of the 125i have been accompanied by the addition of M Sport suspension, brakes and body add-ons, as well as 18-inch alloy wheels.

It has risen by $900 to $48,900, which includes a 2.0-litre direct-injection twin-scroll turbo four-cylinder delivering 160kW and 310Nm for a 6.2-second 0-100km/h sprint time and 6.5L/100km fuel-use figure.

Also added to the features of the sportier 125i are variable-ratio sports steering, auto-dimming external mirrors, upgraded brakes, LED headlights (an option on the lower grades), front parking sensors and suede/cloth trim.

The range-topper will be the M135i, which has dropped from $64,930 to $62,900.

For the extra asking price it gets five additional kW, rising to 240kW of power and 450Nm of torque (between 1300-4500rpm) from the three-litre turbo six-cylinder.

BMW claims a sprint to 100km/h is achieved in 4.9 seconds, while fuel economy sits at 7.5L/100km.

Also on the highlights list is leather trim, M alloys (but still 18-inch), the M Performance adaptive suspension, adaptive function for the LED headlights, upgraded sat-nav screen size, digital radio reception and a speaker upgrade to the infotainment system.

The German car-maker does not offer capped-price servicing, instead retaining the condition-based servicing system with a service package at an additional cost of $1140.

BMW 1 Series pricing*
118i (a)$36,900
118d (a)$40,300
120i (a)$41,900
125i (a)$48,900
M135i (a)$62,900
*Excludes on-road costs.

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