- Latest 1 Series caught winter testing
- Shares underpinnings with Mini Countryman
- Hybrid and sporty M140i models to be offered
- Expected in 2019
The third-generation BMW 1 Series is nearly ready – it was spotted by our spy photographers on slippery Scandinavian roads undergoing rigorous winter road testing. The small BMW will be closely related to the Mini Countryman with which it shares a front-wheel-drive platform giving it more interior room than the outgoing 1 Series.
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One look at the front is enough to tell you the new 1 Series won’t be a huge departure, looks wise, from the outgoing model. The keen-eyed will notice the raised bonnet and LED headlights but the overall look will be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, and looks similar to other BMW family cars.
In profile, the new 1 Series looks taller which will improve passenger space in the rear but also take away some of the sleeker, sportier looks of the outgoing 1 Series. Size-wise, the new 1 Series should be roughly the size of a VW Golf so inner-city manoeuvres should be nice and easy.
Apart from a decisively real exhaust muffler, there’s not much to see of the rear of the new 1 Series in these spy shots. Expect LED brake lights with a style similar to those on the BMW X2 SUV.
The new 1 Series will have a more modern cabin than the outgoing version, including technology borrowed from the new 5 Series. There’ll be a large central infotainment screen and the option of aluminium or wood trim.
Thanks to sharing parts with the larger Mini Countryman, the new car will be more practical than the old one. Rear legroom will be much improved and these spy shots suggest the rear door will be a more accessible shape. Its controversial front-wheel-drive platform will mean the boot will improve on the old model’s 360-litre capacity.
Driving and engines
Entry-level 1 Series will use the same three-cylinder petrol and diesel engines found in Mini hatchbacks. There will also be more powerful 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines in 120i and 120d versions. The 1 Series will be front-wheel drive for the first time, too, to improve passenger space.
It’s thought there’ll be a new hybrid option, too, using technology from the Mini Countryman. This system pairs the 1.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor to cut official carbon dioxide emissions to less than 50g/km.
For spirited drivers, there will be an M140i model, packing around 350hp from a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. Just like the Audi RS3 and Mercedes-AMG A45, the new M140i will be four-wheel drive for maximum traction off the lights and out of corners.
Price and release date
We don’t expect to see the new model before 2019. When it hits dealerships, it shouldn’t cost much more than the current 1 Series’ £21,840 entry price.