Backing out of a tight parking space is something BMW 1-series drivers can now hand over to the vehicle as the automaker's reversing assistant makes its debut in the premium compact class. It's one of the high-tech features that BMW is adding in its entry model range as competition intensifies to widen the reach of technology that automates tasks that customers think are difficult or monotonous.
Already available on the BMW 3 series, the system, which helps the driver exit parking spots or maneuver when space is limited, represents a further step toward automated driving. The reverse assistant stores the steering movements for any distance the car has just driven forward at no more than 36 kph (22 mph).
The car is then able to reverse the vehicle for distances of up to 50 meters at up to 9 kph by steering it along exactly the same line it took when moving forward.
The 1-series' smart-car abilities are also extended to its transmission, which can adapt its shift strategy to the planned route and driving situation. This is possible if the car is equipped with a navigation system, adaptive cruise control and BMW's so-called Proactive Driving Assistant. The transmission will factor in the data from all three to determine when to change gears. The car's start-stop function also takes cues from the data supplied by the navigation system, front-mounted camera and sensors.
The third-generation 1 series continues BMW's strategic shift toward front-wheel drive from rear-wheel drive for its compact lineup. Internally called UKL2, the 1 series shares the fwd system with the 2-series Tourer minivan, X1 and X2 SUVs and the Countryman from sister brand Mini.
BMW says that switching to a fwd architecture has resulted in a significant increase in interior space, despite marginally reducing the vehicle's overall length to 4319 mm from 4324mm and reducing its wheelbase by 20mm to 2670mm.
At 1799mm, the car is 34mm wider than its predecessor while its height has increased by 13mm to 1434mm. Rear seats passengers have easier access and enjoy an extra 33mm of knee room. The luggage space has increased by 20 liters to 380 liters.