2019 BMW 1 Series – what we know so far
BMW's fresh family hatchback will rival the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class with plug-in hybrid power and a high-tech interior...
On sale: Late 2019 | Price from: £23,000 (est)
While key rivals such as the Audi A3 Sportback and Mercedes-Benz A-Class receive more praise these days, the 1 Series still impresses with its low running costs and good performance. And in its next generation, the hatchback is making a radical change.
That is a switch from rear to front-wheel drive, which among other things is set to improve space inside for both passengers and luggage. Together with underpinnings borrowed from the BMW X1 and Mini Countryman, the new 1 Series should be lighter yet stronger than its predecessor.
In fact, BMW will be comprehensively raiding Mini's parts bin when it comes to building the 1 Series, drawing on greater economies of scale to make building the model less costly – and therefore allowing BMW to sell it at roughly the same starting price as today's five-door 1 Series. There will be no three-door model.
Rear-wheel drive used to be one of the 1 Series' selling points, but BMW officials now say customers are more concerned with interior quality and space than pure driving dynamics.
2019 BMW 1 Series engines
The new 1 Series will be offered with up to five petrol and three diesel engines. The entry-level petrol choice will be a 1.5-litre unit with 138bhp, while a more powerful 2.0-litre option will sit above it in 187bhp, 221bhp and 261bhp forms. The diesels will all be 2.0-litre units, with power outputs ranging from 148bhp to 228bhp. Four-wheel drive, badged as xDrive, will be offered with some engines.
While no direct successor to today's M140i hot hatch is planned at the moment, buyers seeking strong performance can choose the 302bhp M130iX model, which will sit at the very top of the range.
The 1 Series' will also be offered as a plug-in hybrid from 2020, with this version likely to be badged as the 125xe. Power will come from a 1.5-litre petrol engine working in conjunction with an 87bhp electric motor, giving an electric-only driving range of around 50 miles.
The 1 Series' underpinnings can also support fully electric propulsion, opening the door for a zero-emissions 1 Series down the line. If such a car were to be made, it would become an indirect replacement for the current BMW i3, which was launched in 2013 and will be nearing the end of its life in 2021.
2019 BMW 1 Series design and interior
If you're looking to sit three abreast on the back seats, the fact that the 1 Series' engines will be mounted sideways instead of lengthways is good news, because that should free up space towards the front of the car, meaning everything can be pulled forwards. That means the interior will be longer and the door openings wider.
Don't expect a radical departure from today's car when it comes to how the new 1 Series will look, but we'd expect to see a larger front grille, slimmer, LED headlights and a tailgate-mounted spoiler.
Just like the latest 3 Series, the new 1 Series should be available with a digital instrument display and the latest version of BMW's iDrive infotainment system, which can be controlled by means of touch, gestures, voice control or a dial on the centre console.
So, how will the new BMW 1 Series compare with the best family cars on sale today? Below and over the next few pages we'll reveal our favourites – and tell you which ones to avoid.
10. BMW i3
The BMW i3 is an electric family car that uses super-light carbonfibre and aluminium to offset the weight of the battery pack that’s mounted beneath its floor, while a smart interior and great handling add further to its appeal.
In addition to the fully electric model, BMW offers a range-extender version with a two-cylinder petrol engine that acts as a generator to prevent the car's batteries from running flat.
9. BMW 1 Series
A more conventional option from BMW is the current 1 Series, which offers a strong combination of performance, fuel economy and CO2 emissions. It’s still a little unusual in that it sends its power to the rear wheels rather than the fronts, but this makes it entertaining to drive, and ride comfort is also good.
Pick of the range: 118i SE
8. Honda Civic
The latest Honda Civic is good to drive and has plenty of space inside for your family and their luggage. Add to that an impressive array of standard safety equipment and it's easy to recommend as an all-rounder.
We'd recommend teaming the frugal 1.0-litre petrol engine with mid-range SR trim for the best combination of economy and equipment.
Pick of the range: 1.0 VTEC SR
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