BMW 1 Series - A change for the better
BMW sees their 1 series as an entry-level vehicle to their established brand as the sentiments were shared at its launch in 2004. Now in its third generation, the model has ditched its station wagon-type design for a more sportback-type look.
The model I test-drove was in the colour Misano Blue metallic and was definitely an attention grabber as it added flair to the edgy design. Multiple character lines are used along the vehicle to evoke a sense of speed to complment the luxury brand. There are also low-profile 17-inch tyres to complete the look as this model seems closer to the ground than the previous generation.
In true BMW fashion, the centre control is angled slightly towards the driver and gives easy access to the 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The display has very good resolution, which means that you can read a lot of the fine print and see all images clearly.
The dashboard is covered in a rubber-type texture, which should be able to stand up against constant sun rays without cracking. It feels soft against the fingers, and the same material is on the armrest, however, in this case, I wished they had used something softer.
There is a USB Type C port in the armrest compartment, and there is a more commonly used USB Type A port in the centre console, which is ideal because most phone chargers are compatible with this. The 1 series was thoughtful enough to make a dedicated phone holder in this area, where the phone can be placed horizontally, and uses a rubber mechanism to ensure that it doesn’t move. The only thing I wished was added to this area was a wireless charger.
The internal ergonomics continue where the gear shifter panel is as it is slightly tilted downwards to better complement the natural position of your hand when it is resting on the armrest.
There are multiple seating positions, especially for the driver, as the base and the side bolster can be adjusted along with the usual options. The driver’s seat also comes with a memory function, which adjusts the side mirrors to the preference that is stored.
The interior is littered many more buttons than are needed, but once you start to fiddle with them, you will get the hang of where everything is. It is as though BMW was paying homage to the past with the use of the red backlight and row of multimedia buttons.
The interior feels spacious, especially with the addition of a panoramic roof, and the seats are cushiony with a soft headrest.
The speakers in the door are located at a mid-level point, beside the window controls, which provides a greater sound quality as the music is projected towards a greater area of the vehicle. Traditionally, these speakers would have been closer to the base of the vehicle, which, now that I think about it, is an ineffective position to be placed.
Around the back, there is 380 litre of boot space in the trunk, which is very commendable, given its size, and this is made possible because there is no spare tire. Call me old school, but I still prefer my cars with a spare tire.
Handles like a charm
The 1 Series sits low to the ground, so it handles exceptionally well as the chassis moves in synergy with the transmission. It has a 1.5-litre turbo three-cylinder engine, which has a little turbo lag, but it didn’t bother me. The vehicle will move at a moderate pace as long as the gas pedal is not pressed aggressively. If this is done, you will feel the 103kW of power with the aid of a Steptronic transmission with double clutch.
There are three driving modes - Sport, Comfort, and Eco - with the car usually tilting towards Eco as its default. For a three-cylinder engine, it does pack a punch as it performed respectfully on the highway.
The ride can be on the firm side, and luckily, the seats are well cushioned so the driver doesn’t feel much of the absorption, but the 1 Series does handle like a sports car, so keep that in mind.
I like the new design direction of the 1 Series as it now has an edginess to it that is sure to turn heads. And with a turbo three-cylinder engine, you can get the best of both worlds where fuel efficiency and power.
Price of tested model: $9,995,000
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo three-cylinder
Fuel tank: 50L
Body Type: Subcompact Executive Cars
Competition: Mercedes A-Class, Audi A3, Volkswagen Golf
Vehicle courtesy of BMWSales@atlautomotive.com , 876-754-0013.