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BMW 1 Series (2019): launch date, specifications and pricing

  • New hatchback is front-wheel drive for the first time
  • Power from 140-310hp, three- and four-cylinder turbos
  • On sale September 2019, priced from £24,430

2019 BMW 118i MSport front view

The third-generation BMW 1 Series has broken cover, and it's a big change from what came before it. It’s hugely important for the Bavarian carmaker, as it's new from the ground up, with more space inside, up-to-the minute tech, and an all-new front-wheel drive platform.

It has some tough opposition to face up to. Not least the recently-launched Mercedes-Benz A-Class and Audi A3, which are its strongest rivals in the premium market sector. The new car shares much of its under-the-skin engineering with the MINI line-up, as well as the BMW X1, X2, and 2-series Active/Gran Tourer ranges, and sees the introduction of new driver and safety tech, which BMW says puts it right at the cutting edge of its market sector.

BMW has already announced pricing and specifications for what could become its biggest selling car in the UK. There is no three-door version available at launch, and that’s likely to remain the case throughout the car’s life. The top petrol and diesel versions gain BMW’s xDrive four-wheel drive system, which should keep all that power in check.

What’s under the skin of the new BMW 1 Series?

The BMW 1 Series receives a familiar line-up of three-and four-cylinder petrol and diesels. They’ve all been redeveloped for improved power and efficiency, so the entry-level three-cylinder 1.5-litre 118i now develops 140hp and CO2 emissions are cut to 123-114g/km (NEDC).

The petrol range then jumps to the M135i xDrive, which puts out a more serious 306hp, thanks to 2.0-litre four-cylinder TwinPower Turbo set-up. Despite being able to crack 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds, it’ll return 34.4-35.3mpg combined (WLTP) and put out 155-157g/km (NEDC).

There are more diesel options than petrol. You get a choice of three from the BMW 116d (1.5-litre, 116hp, 54.3-61.4mpg, 100-103g/km), the 150hp 118d and 190hp 120d xDrive, which feature two-stage turbocharging, and are powered by BMW’s excellent 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engines. Economy and performance are as you’d expect – the 118d returns 51.4-60.1mpg with CO2 emissions of 108-111g/km, while the 120d xDrive makes 48.7-51.4mpg and 117-119g/km of CO2 emissions.

BMW 1 Series: lighter and more efficient

In order to minimise weight, aluminium is used for the bonnet and tailgate for instance and other high-tensile steels are used throughout its structure. The end result is a weight reduction model for model of around 30kg compared with the old 1 Series. There are no plug-in PHEV or BEV (fully electric) model variants from launch, and no confirmation that BMW will launch any later.

BMW says the new car is as good to drive as the old one. So, it gets a super-responsive throttle and steering. The M135i is offered with standard M Sport suspension (10mm lower than standard), brakes and steering. You can optionally select these across the range in the M Sport Plus package.

The BMW 1 Series is also available with Adaptive suspension including VDC (Variable Damper Control) as an option, whichlets the driver choose from two different damping response settings via the Driving Experience Control switch, namely Comfort or Sport.

What is the new 1 Series like inside?

Pretty familiar really? As well as BMW’s Live Cockpit with 8.8-inch central touchscreen and instrument cluster has a 5.7-inch colour display (upgradeable to 10.25in), the driver aid count has been increased significantly - so you can now specify Active Cruise Control with Stop and Go.

Safety systems include collision and pedestrian warning with city braking function, Lane Departure warning with steering assist and speed limit information. Optional extras include Lane Change Warning with blind spot detection system.

2019 BMW 118i MSport interior view

A Head-up display is available on the 1 Series for the first time as is Parking Assistant, which offers automatic assisted parking for parallel or 90-degree parking. in spaces that are either parallel or perpendicular to the road. Thanks to the BMW Digital Key, you can also now use your smartphone instead of a key, by holding it to the door handle to let you in.

Finally, BMW’s Alexa-style Intelligent Personal Assistant is available on the 1 Series – just by saying ‘Hey BMW’. It’s fully online and connected, and is updated on air remotely by BMW.

BMW 1 Series styling: safe and sound

The new 1 Series is a ground-up reboot of the franchise - very much following the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and Audi A3 in adhering to the small premium hatch template. The larger kidneys up front, and the Ford Focus-like proportions will take a considerable amount of time to get used to, and this one fits in way more readily with its rivals.

Moving to front-wheel drive gives the 1 Series a larger, more usable interior, bigger boot, and vastly improved practicality – in this market sector, that matters more than balanced handling and uncorrupted steering. Let’s see if the sales figures bear this out.

When does the BMW 1 Series go on sale in the UK?

The new BMW 1 Series is on sale from September with prices from £24,430 and topping out at £36,430 before options. The 1 Series comes in SE, Sport and M Sport forms, and the range is topped off by M135i xDrive.

Standard models feature matt-black exterior highlights while the Sport gets more air inlets and reverts to high-gloss black for its trim pieces. M Sport gains a bodykit, and the M135i xDrive gets mesh-design for its oversized kidney grille.

Read on: The best hatchbacks to buy in 2019

2019 BMW 118i MSport rear view