BMW has changed a lot on the 1 Series since the beginning. Maybe the most important and most talked about topic is the change from rear-wheel drive to front-wheel drive. Bye Bye fun-factor?

The first BMW 1 Series (E8x) was introduced in 2004 to replace the 3 Series Compact as the entry to the world of BMW. Sold as a 3-door hatchback, 5-door hatchback, 2-door coupé, and convertible in the first-gen, the second generation (F2x) only provided a 3- and 5-door hatchback with the other variants moving to the 2 Series. On generation numero 3 -this one (F40)- 5-door hatchback is the way to go.

3 cylinders

BMW lent us the 118iA, a 1.5-liter turbo three-cylinder, a car that sends its power to the FRONT wheels. Not the first Bimmer to do that and make that conventional, but still, something to make us a little bit sad. Currently, the BMW M135i xDrive and 120d xDrive are the exceptions on the rule with four-wheel-drive here.

So, 140 hp and 220 Nm torque to the front wheels. An amount, that the tires -in dry conditions- never have problems with and will keep you sticking to the road. In 8,5 seconds you hit 100 km/h (62mph) and its top speed is 213 km/h (132 mph). The 140 horsepower in the 118i is just a little bit short when pushing the car to the limit. However, in normal daily traffic, you can enjoy the car at its full potential and you will not wish for more when overtaking on motorways or B-roads.

Especially when the engine is linked to a great 7-speed dual-clutch Steptronic-automatic gearbox. You can also go for the cheaper manual car, but here in Belgium with all those traffic jams, we’re pretty happy to take te automatic. When the engine and gearbox work together every driving mode comes into its own. In the most ecological setting, the car feels “saving” and maybe a little bit boring. But its character changes when you make it as sporty as possible and you enjoy the great and sportive chassis.

When you gently stroke the gas pedal you can drive around with 3,2 l/100 km at 50 km/h, 4,4 liter at 70 km/h and 5,3l on the highway at 120 km/h. We averaged 7,4 l/100 km in a week with normal driving and the usual traffic jams. 

M-goodies

Our 1 Series is fitted with some M-goodies on the exterior, but also on the inside. Just opening the door and you are welcomed by a lot of M-badges and the M-interior. The seats -partly finished in Alcantara- keep you well in place thanks to the lateral support but are in some situations not forgiving enough in combination with the chassis.

Taking the wheel in your hands and can enjoy a firm and heavy steering wheel. Behind that, there is a digital screen for the dials -not so customizable as a Mercedes-Benz A, but we don’t mind that- and a clear head-up display. The rest of the interior looks and feels like the bigger BMW’s with quality that will last for decades. 

Heated seats and a clear infotainment system with an easy to use navigation and a good stereo system is just a small piece of the option that this car has. Adaptive cruise control, lane assist and speed limiter make driving a lot easier.

Leasing drivers will love this BMW and will easily fit 3 (and a half) extra people in the car with the luggage up to 380 liters.

Something completely different

The exterior will create proponents and opponents. It’s certain, it’s something completely different! But like before, you need to choose the right options to make it stand out. The coolest looking 1 Series is that one with the M Sport-package and definitely in this “Misano Blue” with the Led-headlights and day running lights. 

It looks like a Ford Focus“, “It looks like a Hyundai i30“, … much has already been said. But you get used to everything, we are the living proof! Give it time and the new BMW 1 Series will grow on you!

We would love to see a second exhaust on the back. This is a hint, BMW.

Conclusion

Are you looking for a premium german hatchback? Go look at this BMW 1 Series. Yes, it lost his rear-wheel-drive and thereby one of its unique edges. But it has become such a more mature product than its predecessor was. It has a lot more on offer than before and still rides sublime. We’re going to miss the small RWD platform. But with all that it has on offer, we can forgive it for not pushing power to the rear.