2020 BMW 1 Series revealed: price, specs and release date
Everything you need to know about the new BMW 1 Series family hatchback, which will get a high-tech interior and up to 302bhp...
On sale September Price from £24,430
Traditionally, the BMW 1 Series has stood out among its family hatchback rivals like a punk rocker at a ballet recital, because in a room full of front or four-wheel drive cars, it offered playful, sporty rear-wheel drive. Not anymore, though, because this all-new 1 Series has donned a tutu and joined the front-wheel drive ranks. But despite losing its unique selling point, BMW is hoping this 1 Series will be as enjoyable as ever to drive.
Available only as a five-door this time, it’s both wider and taller than the car it replaces, but is slightly shorter in length and has less space between its front and rear wheels. Don’t think that means there’s less space inside for your family, though. There’s more room for the heads, knees and elbows of rear passengers, and more space in the boot too. In fact, with 380 litres on offer, the 1 Series soundly trumps the rival Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class, and matches the big-selling Volkswagen Golf. An electric tailgate is also available for the first time.
Up front, you get analogue instrument dials as standard with a 5.1in screen in the middle for infotainment and navigation information, but upgrade to the Live Cockpit Professional setup and you’ll get a 10.25in digital screen which does a great job of putting a whole host of valuable information right in front of your eyes – including the sat-nav map.
You also get a separate infotainment screen – up to 10.25in in diameter depending on specification – running BMW’s excellent iDrive system. And, joy of joys, there’s a rotary dial to control it all with, although you can also use touch, voice or gesture controls should you wish. A head-up display, which projects info onto the windscreen, is an option.
And so to the engines, and kicking off the UK-line up is the 138bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine of the 118i. It’s good for up to 47.1mpg in the latest WLTP test, emits as little as 114g/km, and can hit 62mph from a standing start in 8.5sec.
The core market for the 1 Series will be diesel, however, and buyers have the 116d, 118d and 120d models to choose from, with 114bhp, 148bhp and 188bhp respectively. The most frugal of these is the 116d, which is capable of returning up to 61.4mpg. Gearbox options are a six-speed manual, or seven and eight-speed automatics.
Buyers seeking hot hatchback levels of performance can choose the M135i, which features a 2.0-litre petrol engine developing 302bhp. A rival for Audi’s S3 and the Mercedes-AMG A45, it’s capable of hitting 62mph in 4.8sec. Both the M135i and the 120d are available with BMW’s xDrive four-wheel drive system.
There will also be a plug-in hybrid option, although not until 2021. This will use the same 1.5-litre petrol engine and 87bhp electric motor as the existing plug-in hybrid Mini Countryman, although officials are targeting an electric range of closer to 50 miles, as opposed to the 26 miles offered by the Countryman.
Prices for the 1 Series start from £24,430, which is a slight increase on today’s five-door 1 Series. That makes the new BMW more expensive than both of its key German rivals, but discounts should level the playing field quickly, and there’s likely to be little between them on a PCP finance deal.
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The 10 most fuel efficient family cars
As good as the official fuel economy figures for the new BMW 1 Series are, it remains to be seen if it will beat the most efficient family hatchbacks in the real world. Below we count down the top 10 models we've put through our True MPG test – and reveal the worst performer of them all.
10. Renault Megane 1.5 dCi 110
True MPG 47.2mpg
In addition to its impressive True MPG, the Megane comes with lots of luxury and safety equipment. However, it's not as practical or enjoyable to drive as the best rivals.
9. Audi A3 2.0 TDI S line
True MPG 47.3mpg
The A3 is a former What Car? Car of the Year and, in five-door Sportback form, it's still one of our favourite family cars. This 2.0-litre diesel engine is worth the price premium over the rather grumbly 1.6 and should definitely be on your shopping list if you'll be covering a lot of miles.
8. Fiat Tipo 1.6 Multijet 120
True MPG 49.1 %
Fiat's Ford Focus rival undercuts most family hatchbacks by thousands, plus it delivers gutsy performance if you go for this high-powered diesel model. Just bear in mind that the low price is reflected in the quality of the interior and disappointing refinement.
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