F40 BMW 1 Series vs F20 BMW 1 Series — Front-Drive versus Rear-Drive

1-series, News | March 27th, 2019 by 8
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We recently saw the upcoming F40-generation BMW 1 Series, the first front-wheel drive 1er hatch, doing its final testing at Miramas. During its final testing, …

We recently saw the upcoming F40-generation BMW 1 Series, the first front-wheel drive 1er hatch, doing its final testing at Miramas. During its final testing, our partners over at BimmerToday had the chance to drive the new 1 Series back-to-back with the current F20-genaration, rear-wheel drive 1 Series. So has this new front-wheel drive 1er ruined the beloved driving dynamics that enthusiasts have come to know from the current F20-gen car?

Well, it drives a bit differently. But it’s not necessarily worse. BMW worked very hard in developing a new system called ARB, which loosely translates to mean “anti wheel slip limitation”, after a brief Google Translate search. The idea, though, is to limit wheel speed through corners by reducing power from the engine. Theoretically, the front wheels will never spin fast enough to create understeer or torque steer, as they’ll always be monitored by this ARB system. So you can put your foot down through corners and let the system sort the front wheels out to put the most power down possible and get you through the corner properly. It’s sort of like a trick front differential, just done with software.

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This allows the new F40 BMW 1 Series to actually be faster than the old-school rear-driven F20 1 Series. While that might not be as fun as tail-out shenanigans from the rear-wheel drive car, it’s faster and more controllable. Though, to help bring some tail-out fun to the new 1 Series, BMW has given it another software trick in DTC mode. During hard cornering with DTC mode activated, the new 1 Series will brake an inside rear wheel so as to induce a bit of a slide.

What’s interesting is that BMW tuned this system to specifically be intentional and repeatable. So it only happens when you try and flick the car through a corner, hard on the throttle. According to our friends from BimmerToday, it works surprisingly well and allows for easily repeatable tail-out slides, corner after corner. Is it as fun as having a proper rear-drive car? Probably not but it’s a nice compromise.

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So is it as fun as the old 1 Series overall? Maybe not in the traditional sense. But it’s still very fun and possibly even more impressive given what BMW has been able to achieve with front-wheel drive. So don’t write the new 1 Series off just yet. Give it a chance, chuck it through a corner or ten and see what it can do.

[Source: BimmerToday]

8 responses to “F40 BMW 1 Series vs F20 BMW 1 Series — Front-Drive versus Rear-Drive”

  1. maxnix says:

    Shed a tear for the further diminuation of BMW’s driving excellence. Now the journalists are rejoicing in power reduction to the driven wheels. What a sad state of affairs.

    Long live the 2002 Neuer Klasse!

    • Me says:

      blah blah blah.. boohoo. it’s getting old.

      get over it.

      some of the most fun cars in the world to drive are compact or subcompact FWD vehicles.

      unless of course you powerslide and drift every single corner on your way to and from work every single day, to and from the grocery, shopping, eating, parallel parking, pulling in and out of the driveway, gymkhana it all the time, then my apologies and FWD is useless to you then you may continue to repost and whine about it

      • Chuck Fickens says:

        Your whole “BMW can do no wrong, so get used to it because “the future”” thing is getting even older.

        • cnet-970ad33b278bd3b05502252be3640ea5 says:

          “the future” i.e. crossovers, fwd., BEV is what will allow BMW to remain independent, rather than Chinese, Indian or corporately swallowed up. While still offering largest range of M ever.

      • cnet-970ad33b278bd3b05502252be3640ea5 says:

        Just had a free rental upgrade Golf for a wknd., embarrassed how much I liked it. That BMW are bringing out a 300 hp. competitor is exciting. And the design looks better than the Golf, tighter, crisper, strong beltline, good greenhouse for visibility.

      • Kevin says:

        Still the most fun car I’ve ever owned was FWD . I’ve owned a Gtir ,skyline GTR, M3 ,heaps of other fast BM’s but my favourite ever drivers car was my old Peugeot 205 1.9GTI . That’s the car I’d have back if I could choose one.

  2. Daniel Smith says:

    That’s a lot of words to pretty much say ‘No it’s not as much fun, but probably not as much less fun as you think.’

    ‘Could be worse’ is not my idea of a compelling reason to buy the new version of a much loved car.

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