Last week, BMW hosted selected media at their testing facility in Miramas, France, to showcase the upcoming BMW 1 Series hatchback. The car will be unveiled by this June with sales starting later in the summer and it will be the first 1er hatchback based on a front-wheel drive architecture.

BMW says that the new 1 Series is preceded by five years of intensive development work in order to offer the driving experience BMW 1 Series customers are accustomed to.

“Our customers will directly feel the fast and precise responsiveness that provides for an optimised driving experience. The BMW 1 Series will be a genuine BMW with an individual character,” says Peter Langen, head of Driving Dynamics at the BMW Group.

According to the BMW engineers, a crucial element for the car’s exceptionally high agility is ARB technology (actuator contiguous wheel slip limitation) known from the BMW i3s, which is now celebrating its debut in a vehicle with a combustion engine. This transfer of technology improves traction, while facilitating significantly more sensitive and faster control.

ARB technology, which is standard on the BMW 1 Series, features a slip control system positioned directly in the engine control unit instead of in the control unit for the DSC function (Dynamic Stability Control). Without long signal paths, information is passed on three times faster, with the regulation speed perceived by the driver actually being up to ten times faster.

In close coordination with the DSC function, actuator contiguous wheel slip limitation significantly reduces the power understeer usually experienced with front-wheel drive vehicles, but without control intervention to stabilise lateral dynamics. BMW Performance Control (yaw moment distribution) also comes as standard and additionally increases agility of the BMW 1 Series through dynamic brake intervention. Moreover, torsional stiffness of the body structure is enhanced by the targeted use of additional struts such as a standard rear-end “boomerang strut”.

“Through this extensive integration of all driving dynamics-related aspects as well as the new, innovative traction control feature, we are creating a completely novel driving experience,” says Holger Stauch, BMW 1 Series project manager.

The top model will be the M135i xDrive which replaces our favorite – the M140i.

The new hot hatch features the most powerful 4-cylinder engine from the BMW Group with a 2-liter capacity and BMW TwinPower Turbo technology. The power unit delivers 225 kW (306 hp), thanks to a reinforced crank drive, new pistons and cod rods, a larger exhaust turbocharger as well as optimized fuel injection valves.

The idea behind the new FWD 1 Series Hatchback was to offer more interior space. For example, legroom for rear-seat passengers has increased by 33 millimetres and headroom at the back by 19 millimetres. Access to the rear compartment is now easier and luggage compartment capacity has increased by 20 liters to 380 liters.

We expect to drive the new 1 Series Hatchback in July and we will report on the experience.