If you look at all the previous generations of the 1 Series, they all had an element of fun. I mean, they all came with the rear-wheel-drive setup, yet most owners of the hatches never knew their cars were RWD.
They were all surprised to learn that BMW ditched the RWD layout for FWD setup that is used by competitors in the C-segment.
The year 2019 saw the introduction of the new BMW 1 Series in SA, and I recently got the opportunity to spend time with the base 118i.
Speaking of design cues, it adopts a front-end similar to BMW’s latest products such an enlarged grille, tweaked LED headlights while the rear comes with LED treatment. It is a stunning hatch more, especially in the blue colour and M Sport kit that was worn by my test unit.
The BMW 1 Series is well-built with a premium quality feel all round. It comes fitted with an electric panoramic sunroof for the first time on the 1 Series as well as a pair of digital screens of up to 10.25-inches in size featuring BMW Operating System 7.0.
The system is easy to fiddle with, from connecting Bluetooth, radio, SATNav to jamming to my favourite songs. My test unit came fitted with the optional Harman Kardon sound system, which was a pleasure to have.
Because of the shift from RWD to FWD, the new BMW 1 Series has more usefully space, weighs less and is more efficient. It has a decent leg and headspace for everyone.
The 380l boot was able to gulp a few sizeable bags and other items.
The driving position is spot on, thanks to the various settings of the driver’s seat. The ambient lighting inside offers a somehow youthful feeling.
I took the BMW 118i down to Mpumalanga, Bushbuckridge and I was left impressed with the three-cylinder 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine. The engine offers flexible and robust pulling power which makes it ideal for everyday driving.
The engine makes 103 kW of power and 220 Nm of torque, and it is paired to a smooth seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that drives the front wheels.
Despite the move from RWD to FWD, I have noticed a bit of an improvement over the previous 1 Series. The drive is sharper and sporty while the quick steering wheel gives the car a livelier feel and you get a clue of what the front wheels are doing.
It cushions road imperfections with so much aplomb and keeps refined even at high speeds.
In the fuel consumption stable, the BMW 1 Series did not leave my pockets dry. It is efficient, and I managed to average 7.1l/100km with the range coming close to the 600 km mark. The fuel consumption figures would drop below the 6.5l/100km mark during highway cruising.
The new 1 Series offers premium drive, and it is the best of the lot. It is fun to drive and provides a great balance between sporty driving and comfort. So, BMW did no lousy thing by moving from RWD to FWD. If you are looking for a performance-orientated hatch, the M135i xDrive is worth looking at, but it comes at a price.
The new BMW 1 Series is priced from R524 100.
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