New 2020 BMW 1 Series in final testing phase
By Wayne Gorrett
BMW has released the first official images of its new 1 Series hatchback undergoing its final phase of dynamic testing at the BMW proving ground in Miramas, Southern France, marking the end of the vehicle’s rigorous five-year development programme.
This third-generation model will take over from the current version that’s been on sale for more than eight years.
The images show a heavily camouflaged version of the hatchback, but closer study suggests that the new 1 Series will incorporate a similar front-end design to BMW’s recent models. This includes the increasingly vast kidney grille that first appeared on the 8 Series last year, and angular LED headlights.
Moving further back, the hatchback appears to have a lower roofline that gradually slopes downwards towards the rear, affording a more sporty appearance. The boot lid also appears to be wider than the old car, which will enhance practicality.
BMW has already confirmed that the that the new 1 Series will be front-wheel drive, as opposed to the rear-wheel drive layout that has featured on every version of the hatchback since its arrival in 2004. That’s an engineering milestone as BMW has long favoured rear-wheel drive layouts because it made their cars more enjoyable to drive.
The new 1 Series’ wider design and rigid body shell infers greater agility than ever before and is expected to result in driving characteristics that are different, but will still live up to the expectation of BMW fans.
Three models have been confirmed so far. Entry-level 118i cars are powered by a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine producing 140hp. Next in the range walk-up will be the 120d, which comes with a 190hp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine.
At the top of the range will sit the all-wheel drive M135i xDrive. Performance specs have yet to be announced, but the range-topper’s engine is derived from the 302hp 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol unit from the X3 SUV.
All wraps are expected to come off the new 1 Series at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, before sales open either late 2019 or early 2020.