The BMW 1 Series has gone mainstream. In musical terms, think of it like the original drummer has left the band and now the third album is being produced by some slick corporates; the types who pump out those immensely successful but manufactured number ones for Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus.
What, exactly, has BMW done, then? Well, the 1 Series has always been rear-wheel drive; a unique and characterful layout for family cars and one more commonly associated with sports cars. Yet beyond the hype, previous versions of the 1 Series weren't actually as good to drive as many of its front-wheel-drive rivals, and it seems BMW now agrees. From 2019, and the third generation we're talking about in this review, the 1 Series has gone to front-wheel drive.
All of which means that the latest 1 Series shares many of its oily bits with cars like the BMW X1 and X2 SUVs, as well as Minis. And such a fundamental change means that the 1 Series could be completely repackaged. Instead of the drive to the rear wheels eating into the space inside the car, BMW says this time it is bigger than ever before inside. So, can the 1 Series finally be as good to drive and as spacious as the Audi A3 or Mercedes A-Class? Or better, for that matter?