With the new F40 BMW 1 Series and its front-wheel drive layout, BMW takes the fight to similar products in the segment. The Bavarians were the last mohicans in using the rear-wheel drive architecture for the entry-level hatchback, but now, it’s launching a new design to compete with the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class. As expected, the move from the rear-wheel drive to the front implies significant changes in the design and dimensions.
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At 4,319 millimeters, the new BMW 1 Series is five millimeters shorter than its predecessor. In terms of width (now 1,799 millimetres), this third-generation model has grown by 34 millimeters while its height (1,434 mm) has increased by 13 millimeters. At 2,670 millimeters, the wheelbase is 20 millimeters shorter than that of the predecessor model.
Design wise, the new 1 Series Hatchback comes with a new face. The characteristic BMW kidney grille is larger and merge in the middle, inline with the recent design language from BMW. The 1 Series M Performance Automobile – the BMW M135i xDrive – stands out with a distinctive kidney grille whose pronounced mesh design replaces the classical bars. It’s not just the face that has changed, but also the bonnet size and cabin. The three and four-cylinder powerplants in the new F40 1 Series require less space, therefore, we’re getting a shorter bonnet and a more spacious interior design.
Side-by-side, the old and new 1 Series are clearly being differentiated. From the side and the back, the new 1 Series resembles more the X1 SAV than a hatchback, so we’re getting a similar roofline and the stance of low-riding crossover. The shark nose and the streamlined design lines enhance the sportiness of the new 1 Series, and bring it inline with the recent designs from Munich.
The headlights are also new, with a slimmer design, and not as polarizing as those in the F20/F21 generation. Same idea was applied in the rear – the L-shapped taillights are slimmer, wider, in a move to enhance the width of the car.
If we move inside, there is without a doubt a significant change in design. The F40 1 Series family takes most of the design cues from the G20 3 Series – a premium move by BMW to offer more luxury to their customers, at an entry-level price. The driver-oriented layout stays while the new buttons and controls are both analog and digital. Access to the optional infotainment offering provided by the new BMW Operating System 7.0 – with optional gesture control – is via a large display grouping whose two large screens are available with a diagonal of up to 10.25 inches (with the BMW Live Cockpit Professional).
The front-wheel-drive architecture with transverse engines and a lower center tunnel offers the occupants noticeably more space than in the predecessor model. This applies especially to those in the rear seats. Access is easier and there is an extra 33 millimeters of kneeroom available. Rear headroom is up by no less than 19 millimetres when the outward opening panoramic sunroof – a new option for the BMW 1 Series – is fitted. Rear passengers also enjoy 13 millimeters more elbowroom, while the driver and front passenger can look forward to an extra 42 millimeters in this respect. Luggage compartment capacity rises by 20 liters to 380 liters (1,200 liters with the rear seat bench folded down). The minimum width of the luggage compartment has also increased by 67 millimeters. An electrically operated tailgate is now available for the BMW 1 Series for the first time.
At the end of 2018 the BMW 1 Series broke through the 1.3 million customers barrier, making one of the most successful models ever built by BMW. The Bavarians are now betting that the price point and versatility of the new 1 Series, coupled with great driving dynamics in the M135i xDrive models, will make the F40 1er generation just as popular.