This is all-new 2020 BMW 1 Series, and unlike any other 1 Series before it, this baby Beemer is now front-wheel drive. Here is everything you need to know about it.
New BMW 1 Series
Front-wheel drive for the first time
Release date and price
From just over £24k, on sale later this year
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2020 BMW 1 Series M Performance parts
BMW has revealed an array of M Performance parts for the 2020 BMW 1 Series. They give you the option to make your BMW 1 Series look like a race car (or just plain horrendous, depending on your viewpoint) along with bringing genuine performance benefits, according to BMW.
The most noticeable among the new inclusions is an aggressive body kit that turns the 1 Series’ presence up to 11. It gets the ball rolling with a mesh grille and a carbon fibre front splitter complete with the canard style (if less convincing looking) aero features you’d usually expect to find on a serious supercar such as the Porsche 911 GT3.
Around the sides you get black side inserts complete with ‘M Performance’ scrolled down the middle that run to the rear doors. And you can also tick a set of particularly aggressive looking side skirts off your list of performance ‘enhancements’.
The profile of the car is finished off with some questionable (even in this context) carbon fibre wing mirrors that, like every other carbon fibre bit, have been given a clear finish and a high gloss polish. If you so wish, they can project ‘M Performance’ onto the kerbside.
And, if you like the look of the mirrors, you’re going to love the 1 Series’ back end – where you’ll find more carbon fibre scattered around the place than you would after a ten-car pileup in Formula 1. Taking the form of a large boot-mounted spoiler and even more prominent rear diffuser.
BMW claims all these ‘lightweight’ parts improve aerodynamics though, suspiciously, doesn’t provide any figures to prove it.
A more tangible difference should be felt by the new brakes which feature uprated four-pot callipers up front clamping drilled and ventilated discs for improved cooling. They’re made from aluminium to save weight. The back wheels, meanwhile, get single-pot floating callipers with the same fancy discs. Those brakes can be the window dressing for your choice of optional 18 or 19-inch alloy wheels.
And there’s more to come on the inside. There your 1 Series can not only look sporty but feel sporty, too, thanks to a hand-stitched Alcantara sports steering wheel and carbon fibre shift paddles.
2020 BMW 1 Series price and release date
While we don’t know how much all those performance parts will cost, we do know the 2020 BMW 1 Series will start from. The new 1 Series will start at just over £24,000 when it goes on sale towards the end of the year. That’s over a grand more than the current car and a bit more than the Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class too. Diesels start at over £25,000 and range-topping cars are well over £30,000.
2020 BMW 1 Series styling
While the new BMW 1 Series hasn’t quite got the flared nostrils you’ll see on the front of the X7, its grille IS bigger than before and follows the design on the new 3 Series with the kidneys merging in the middle.
There’s a shorter bonnet and the car’s new face is completed with new slanting headlights that can come as full LEDs.
2020 BMW 1 Series front-wheel drive
Underneath its skin the new 1 Series shares lots of its parts with the MINI Countryman and the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. However, engineers spent five years developing the car’s front-wheel-drive handling so that it drives as sportily as a 1 Series should. They have even fitted it with something called Contiguous Wheel Slip Limitation (catchy huh?) which is supposed to help improve traction when pulling away, cornering and driving in the wet.
2020 BMW 1 Series space
The switch from rear- to front-wheel drive means that while the new 1 series is shorter than the previous model, there’s actually more space inside. The old car’s slightly cramped interior was one of the main complaints of owners… many of whom never even knew or cared that their little BMW was driven by its rear wheels.
However, they will notice that in this new version rear knee room, elbow room and headroom are all improved and that the boot is bigger too. In fact, it’s now larger than a Mercedes A-Class’s – which is important in German premium car one-up-manship.
2020 BMW 1 Series infotainment
As standard, the new 1 series gets a 9-inch touchscreen on the dashboard that can also be operated with the iDrive wheel controller between the front seats. But just like the bigger 3 Series, you can upgrade to a 10-inch touchscreen which can also be operated with gesture controls – that means waving your hands around like an idiot to do stuff like turn up the volume. The upgrade also replaces analogue driver dials with digital ones that can show sat-nav instructions between the speedo and rev counter.
The 1 Series can also come with BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant. It works a bit like Apple’s Siri and you activate it by saying ‘hey BMW’ before telling what you want. It will do basic stuff like put a destination into the sat nav and increase the climate if you say ‘I’m cold’. And if you say ‘hey BMW I’m tired’, it will turn up the air con, the music and the ambient lighting to wake you up.
2020 BMW 1 Series engines
This new BMW is available with a range of petrol and diesel power already used in the MINi and 2 Series active tourer. The 118i has a three-cylinder 1.5-litre turbo that’s capable of around 50mpg and can go from nought to 60 in 8.5 seconds.
Meanwhile, the 116d has a 1.5-litre 3cylinder diesel that should be good for 70 miles per gallon while the 2.0-litre 118d should manage around 65mpg. Then there’s the higher power all wheel drive 120d xDrive which can do around 60mpg. And of course, both manual and automatic gearboxes are available.
2020 BMW 1 Series reversing assistant
You can get the new 1 Series with what BMW calls ‘Innovative Reversing Assistant. If you manage to get your 1 Series stuck in a confined situation and you have to reverse out your car does the hard work for you. It can remember your steering inputs for the last 50 meters and basically plays them in reverse so the car simply goes back on the same line that got you in. The car steers itself, all you have to do is work the accelerator and brakes.
2020 BMW M135i
For those worried about the 1 Series switching to front wheel drive, there is another concern – this set up means no more awesome 3.0-litre straight six engines for the hot petrol versions. Instead, the £36,000 range-topping M135i has a two-litre engine. Still, it does have a large turbo, 306hp and 450Nm – making it BMW’s most powerful four-cylinder engine ever.
And, thanks to all-wheel drive, an eight-speed auto with launch control and limited slip diff it can do 60 in 4.8 seconds. Sadly though it won’t power slide like the old M140i – which surely is the whole point of a hot BMW?
The M135i has its own design of kidney grille, with a mesh pattern in a unique grey colour replacing the standard bars to help mark it out. It sits on 18-inch alloy wheels, though you can upgrade to lightweight 19-inch ones. At the back, the rear spoiler is longer than on the standard car and has a slight upturn that BMW says helps aerodynamics. Oh, and there are a couple of ‘real’ chrome exhaust pipes – each 100mm in diameter. No need for the carwow stick of truth on this version then…