When is a BMW not a BMW? When it’s the brand new 1 Series.
So were we but there’s really no need to be. The latest iteration of the 1 Series is every bit a BMW except for one small detail.
After five years of intensive development work the new BMW 1 Series is designed to set new standards in the premium compact class in terms of driving dynamics. With a cutting edge suspension set-up, innovative technologies and the integration of all the driving dynamics-related components and control systems, the BMW 1 Series should provide greater comfort and agility than preceding generations.
Good news for anyone looking to lease a premium hatchback in the coming months.
But the key changes to the new 1 Series is the transfer of technology from the electric i3, allowing BMW to make the most of the experience gained over recent years with their front-wheel drive models. Yes, you did read that correctly. The new BMW 1 Series is front-wheel drive. Rub your eyes.
Now you understand our initial confusion: we all know a proper BMW should be rear-wheel drive.
Although having said that, the new BMW 1 Series will also be available with BMW xDrive intelligent four-wheel drive offering even more traction and improved grip.
The crucial element for the new BMW 1 Series’s agility is ARB technology (actuator contiguous wheel slip limitation) which is making its debut in a vehicle with a traditional combustion engine. Introducing this technology from the BMW i brand to the core BMW range improves traction and allows for more sensitive and faster control.
How ARB technology improves the 1 Series driving experience
For those who are interested in such things (we know some of you will be) ARB technology features a slip control system positioned directly in the engine control unit instead of in the control unit for the traction control (DSC). It doesn’t sound particularly exciting but by shortening the signal path between components the information is passed on three times faster, with the increased response perceived by the driver to be up to 10 times faster.
In close coordination with the DSC function, actuator contiguous wheel slip limitation significantly reduces the power understeer usually experienced with front-wheel drive vehicles. Coupled with BMW Performance Control, which further increases agility of the car through dynamic brake intervention, and additional chassis stiffening means the new BMW 1 Series should perform very well.
As much as the switch to front-wheel drive may annoy the purists there is some method to BMW’s madness. Fitting front-wheel drive architecture with a transverse engine and a low centre tunnel makes a massive difference to the interior space. Legroom for rear-seat passengers has increased by 33 millimetres and headroom at the back by 19 millimetres.
Access to the rear compartment is now easier and luggage compartment capacity has increased by 20 litres to 380 litres. A few millimetres may not sound much but it’s the difference between amputating your legs to squeeze into the back; or not. The old 1 Series always suffered in terms of space compared to the VW Golf or Ford Focus. By improving the space and maintaining the driving experience BMW may have produced a truly brilliant compromise. The new BMW 1 Series promises to combine outstanding handling characteristics with significantly improved spaciousness.
Performance option: M135i
There’s also the most powerful BMW 4-cylinder engine for the new top-of-the-range model that’s worth a mention. The newly developed 4-cylinder engine in the BMW M135i xDrive is a 2-litre, turbocharged unit that delivers a touch over 300bhp whilst still offering around 40mpg. It manages to squeeze all that power out thanks to small individual changes such as a reinforced crank drive, new pistons and cod rods, a larger exhaust turbocharger as well as optimised fuel injection valves.
Of course, if tearing around with 300 untamed stallions under the bonnet isn’t your thing the usual BMW range of reliable, economical engines will still be available. Whichever option you choose, be it front-wheel or four-wheel drive, you can be sure we will have some great lease deals available across the new BMW 1 Series range .
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