Juliet reviews…the BMW 1 Series

The third generation BMW 1 Series, which sees the new front-wheel-drive architecture being employed, has caused some upsets among BMW fans. Have the changes made this a radically different car? Or perhaps an even better one? I think BMW fans should welcome the changes.

The first challenge for many has been accepting that the 1 Series is no longer a rear-wheel-driven hatch, but now a front-wheel-driven one. There are a few reasons BMW has chosen to make this change, but one positive one means more space in the cabin. The boot, now with 20-litres more space and an increased width by 67 mm, is at 380-litres which expands to 1 200-litres with the rear seats folded down. And I can’t imagine anyone complaining about more space. Rear passengers also enjoy 13 mm more elbowroom, while the driver and front passenger can look forward to an extra 42 mm in this respect. An electric tailgate operation is offered on the BMW 1 Series for the first time. We also see an electric panoramic roof available for the first time.

There are very few people who will be able to tell the difference between a front- or rear-wheel driven car, in any case, and so I don’t see this as an issue. And if anything, this new BMW 1 Series is better to drive than ever. It is a fantastic and comfortable drive and still handles as one would expect from any of BMW’s products.

The other contentious issue is the styling. Many feel it looks a bit too much like its X siblings. In other words, it has an SUV vibe about it. In the metal, this is a really good-looking car and I don’t really get the SUV feel. The only section of the car that I might not love is the front. That grille takes some getting used to.

Gone too is the 3.0-litre straight six in the M135i xDrive, which has seen a few feathers being ruffled. It has been replaced with a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine which produces 225 kW and 450 Nm. It is still powerful enough, getting you to 100 km/h in just 4.8 seconds. The 118i employs a 1.5-litre turbocharged engine with 103 kW and 220 Nm. I drove the 118i and I cannot stress enough just how refined the drive is. And there is certainly enough power for anyone who is not on the prowl for a fire-breathing hatch back.

There may be some drastic changes to this new BMW 1 Series, but like I said in the beginning of this review, I think BMW fans should be able to welcome these changes. Especially when it makes the car an all-round better drive. It is better in most aspects which is the point of a new model, isn’t it?


A 2-year/unlimited warranty and a 5-year/100 000km maintenance plan is standard.

118i – R524 100 
M135i xDrive – R763 300

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