Analysis: BMW 1 Series Coupe Styling

1-series | January 20th, 2010 by 10
bmw 1 series coupe interior 750x500

The Amish are renowned for their restrained appearance, and a well crafted simplicity. Loath to emulate what they view as the discordant modern world, they …

BMW 135i BD 021 654x436

The Amish are renowned for their restrained appearance, and a well crafted simplicity. Loath to emulate what they view as the discordant modern world, they have shunned any affect of modernity. Amish building and furniture making is highly praised but the superficial simplicity of styling belies a well conceived and carefully constructed core.

Two simple lines define the exterior of the 1 series. The beltline runs from the tip of the front fenders all the way through the rear decklid. Higher than the beltline of the 3 series, it tends to emphasize the vertical, when the 1er is actually only marginally taller than the 3 series.

The other prominent line is the curve that runs just above the rockers on each side of the car. With a bit of a sway towards the front – it ‘pinches’ the apparent size of the wheelbase. At 104 inches the 1 series has a fairly long wheelbase and only four inches shorter than the 3 series, but that lower line does a good job disguising it.

BMW 135i BD 011 654x436

The upper beltline has an almost nautical appeal to it, being not unlike the gunwale of small row boat – broad at the beam and straight across at the transom. To carry that nautical notion forward, imagine extending the beltline from the front edge of the fenders to beyond the front of the car and you’ll envision it ending in a point, like the prow of a boat.

In reality, BMW could have made the 1er a mini 3, using the same styling for both vehicles. But to their credit they did not. The 3 series has a much more important place in the BMW portfolio than does the 1er coupe and subsequently BMW could take more risks with the styling of the 1 coupe. While it does not appeal to everyone, it does seem to have generated enough enthusiasm to satisfy the saturation point BMW is trying to achieve with the vehicle.


The interior is decently devoid of extraneous fiddly bits and appeals to a Germanic notion of restraint. Only the instrumentation needed is provided in addition to a minimization of additional knobs, switches, and dials in the secondary controls. In fact the reductio ad absurdum of this philosophy may be the notion of one controller for all functions (iDrive anyone ; -).

The interior materials and finish from the B pillar forward are very good to excellent. In a truly premium car the grain would be matched on the center console trim – but how much did you really want to pay for a 1 series?

Behind the B pillar though, the cost cutting shines through. The backseat is finished at a fraction of the level of the equivalent 3 series coupe. The interior space and layout of the 1er is optimized for front seat passengers and only an occasional use of the rears.

BMW 1 Series Coupe Photo Gallery

10 responses to “Analysis: BMW 1 Series Coupe Styling”

  1. Brookside says:

    It’s a gorgeous car…one that photos don’t do justice to. The proportions are so similar to the E46 coupe that when parked next to one another there’s little size difference besides the 1-er being slightly wider.
    I suppose that it is an insiders car and I suspect that BMW knew that going into it.
    Iconic and special.

    Bottom line- it’s my favorite BMW and the new N55 engine only makes it sweeter.

  2. Shawn says:

    Fantastic article Hugo – very well written and an enjoyable read.

    I am drawn to the 1 series by its boxy, squared off styling – reminiscent of the E30. As an aficionado of all BMWs, I really appreciate this throwback to some of BMWs finest cars.

    What fails to impress me? At the weight station, the DOT officer looks at me weird and thinks I’m a Kenworth. Ok, that’s a bit harsh – but to share the same dynamic feeling as an E30, the 1 series must lose some weight, wherever possible.

    Failing to impress from behind the wheel is the 1 series marked understeer – it’s a real dog at tight race tracks. Hopefully any performance version of the 1 series will have this tuned out.

  3. plaxico says:

    flight attendant and hairdresser car…….

  4. Marc says:

    @Plaxico….Hairdresser my a$$…look here:

    near 400hp/crank…..I will continue to drive my flight attendants car….

  5. constance says:

    I want to know the price of 1 series coupe, please email me

  6. Jenna D says:

    What a crap looking car. Should sell well to the hairdresser who thinks they are doing well in life. Do yourself a favour and buy a car from a different manufacturer that way you won’t be labled as a complete tosser who drives a BMW.

  7. name says:

    Help me to find the,

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