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.
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.