BMW hopes to win over buyers with its third-generation 1-series compact hatchback when the car goes on sale in Europe in September. The new model comes with a more expansive interior and bigger trunk than the current generation.
BMW says that switching the 1 series to a front-wheel-drive architecture from rwd has resulted in a "giant leap in space," despite shrinking both the vehicle's overall length marginally to 4319 mm (170 inches) and its wheelbase by 20mm (0.8 inches).
Knee room, headroom and elbowroom have all been expanded, especially for rear passengers, BMW said in a statement.
Designers gave the car a more pronounced shark nose and a distinct wedge shape, as well as reinterpreting the signature kidney grill following styling cues found in larger BMW sedans.
BMW said it poured the sum total of experience in front-wheel-drive into the five-year development process of the car, which from now on will be available as a five-door model only and feature multi-link rear suspension as standard.
These include introducing into a combustion engine BMW for the first time an actuator borrowed from the sportier BMW i3s electric car that brings wheel slip under control up to ten times faster. This significantly improves traction when pulling away, cornering or driving on rain slick roads and together with dynamic stability control it significantly reduces the power understeer drawback so typical of front-wheel-drive cars.
Customers in Europe will have a choice of three diesel and two gasoline engines to choose from, ranging in output from 113 hp to 302 hp in the high-performance M version, which uses the most powerful four cylinder the automaker has to offer.
All engines meet the Euro 6d-Temp emissions standard that takes effect in September and the entry 116d already complies with Euro 6d, which takes effect for all new cars starting in 2021.
Car buyers looking for the greatest possible connectivity features can opt for the BMW Live Cockpit Professional which features two 10.3-inch digital display and an updateable operating system. That means the BMW's voice-controlled Intelligent Personal Assistant, making its debut in the compact hatch, will be capable of improving itself over the air during the life cycle of the car.
Convenience and comfort options include heads-up display, a digital key that can be shared with up to five people and a new panoramic glass roof. Trunk space grows by 20 liters to 380 liters and for ease and convenience, the hatch opens for the first time fully electrically.
Largest markets for the 1 series are Germany and the UK, which together account for nearly half of all sales, followed by Italy, France and Japan. Four out of five 1-series cars are delivered to customers in Europe.
The 1 series hatcback is not sold in the U.S. where BMW's entry-level model is the 2 series coupe.
Altogether roughly 1.3 million units were sold since the first generation debuted in 2004, when it was positioned as the only rear-wheel-drive premium compact in the market.
The new 1 series will be unveiled at the end of June during a presentation at the BMW Welt in Munich, followed by its auto show debut in September in Frankfurt.
European sales of the 1 series fell 8.5 percent to 126,428 last year, according to figures from JATO Dynamics. This put it behind the Mercedes A class, with sales of 156,020 and the Audi A3 with sales of 143,789.