Bmw 1-series revealed – Front wheel drive, but should we be worried?

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Bmw is the black sheep of the car world, at least when it comes to where the power goes to. While almost every car manufacturer goes front wheel drive, Bmw has stubbornly stuck to rear wheel drive with the claim that rear wheel drive is one of the key ingredients for fun driving performance. Initially it seems that Bmw has shot themselves in the foot. THE only small car to have a proper rear wheel drive set up is now, front wheel drive. It will even come as a hybrid. The world is evidentially doomed because of this. Well, not really. Instead of closing myself in a room for eternity, I am thoroughly impressed by Bmws braveness in today’s hostile market. One slip and people don’t want to buy you. Because believe it or not, having a front wheel drive layout has numerous positive effects. I will mention these together with what else is new on the third generation Bmw 1-series.

The car has been shortened by a few millimeters when looking from the outside, important to note that underneath the car is similar to models like the X1 and X2, but the interior has increased. More legroom and headspace, partly thanks to an increase in the height of the car, are all evidences that the new front wheel setup takes up less space. No need for a big driveshaft and a large rear differential underneath the car. The entire chassis is more rigid than before, for those of you who needs to know.

What made the last generation 1-series sell so great? Well, apart from being a solid choice regarding space, features and driving enjoyment, it was the clean but at the same time striking exterior that made it sell. The new generation is rather different. The front lights are awfully similar to those of the new Mercedes A class and the kidneys are as big as ever. The then flat line going along the doors are now heavily angled towards the front to create a seemingly more aggressive exterior. Has it worked? I actually think that the last generation looks better, it is not as bloated as the new one with the big and very round kidneys taking up the majority of the front. Think of it as a grimacing bodybuilder when he flexes at you. Speaking of the doors, the 1-series will only come as a 5 door. At the rear, things are better. A design reminiscent to the new 3 series with clean and simple lines. Treat yourself with the m135 and you get two exhausts, some more indents and black plastic. Nothing exaggerated though.

Inside, the hints towards the 3-series are even greater, and that is a good thing. A tried and tested interior which has been updated with a big, 10 inch, display and a sunroof. The angular, but at the same time swooping lines, are spot on and blends well with the look of the infotainment system and digital gauge cluster.

Initially, the car will come with two petrol engines, 118i and M135i xDrive, and three diesel engines, 116d, 118d and 120d xDrive. Nothing new here, all are great engines where the diesels excel with their low fuel consumption, except the M135 xDrive with a 0-100 km/h of 4.8 seconds and a combined consumption of 7.1 – 6.8 L/100 km.

Bmw is adamant that the new front wheel drive layout will not affect the driving enjoyment. Employing a range of technologies, but the fact is this. The hot hatch, M135, now directly competes with the Honda Type R, end of story. And some of the uniqueness of the old generation is now gone. In reality, I don’t think that this aspect will affect more than the die hard fans. My major concern is the exterior, especially the front which is very busy, whereas the rear is very simple and clean. A clear imbalance. The price of the 1-series has however not been release yet but the car will be available in the later 2019.    

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