VerdictOnCars

Latest First Drives

BMW 1 Series

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"BMW claims to have tackled two other major criticisms of the old car, including the choppy ride and the patchy interior finish"

"BMW claims to have tackled two other major criticisms of the old car, including the choppy ride and the patchy interior finish"

What is it?

It may look like a BMW 1 Series, and it is, but this is the second-generation, 2011 version, all new from bumper-to-bumper apart from some lightly modified diesel engines that live on from the previous edition.

Look harder, and you begin to see differences beyond tail light that resemble giant-size, illuminating boiled sweets and even-stretchier headlamps. This is a bigger 1 Series - it shares its platform with the next generation 3 Series - meaning it grows in length and width, with fuller bodywork and thrust forward kidney grille.

Some of that extra length has produced a much-needed expansion of cabin and boot, while the additional width is claimed to improve the car's handling, as has some strategic strengthening of the bodyshell and upgraded suspension. BMW also claims to have tackled two other major criticisms of the old car, including the choppy ride and the patchy interior finish.

The key mechanical changes affect the 116i and 118i petrol engines (both 1.6-litre motors, confusingly) which benefit from so-called twin scroll turbo technology that better harnesses the engine's exhaust pulses to drive the turbo, improving performance and fuel economy.

The diesel motors, of which there are three, are lightly revised and already benefit from twin scroll turbos. These engines are hooked either to six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmissions, and both gearboxes are combined with auto stop-start.

All 1 Series also get a centre console switch known as the Driver Performance Control, which toggles between Comfort, Sport, on some models Sport+, as wells as a so-called Eco Pro mode that's claimed to reduce consumption by as much as 20 per cent.

Also new are so-called Urban and Sport (not to be confused with M Sport, which comes later) trim packs in addition to BMW's traditional ES and SE models. Urban features white-painted alloys and exterior trim pieces, as well as scope for specifying white dashboard, door pull and centre console d├ęcor inspired by Apple products and of debatable appeal.

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