Shame it’s hiding a front-driven powertrain.
The time has come for BMW’s much-loved (but infrequently-sold) 1-Series hatchback to make its move from rear-wheel drive to front-wheel drive, on the back of loud and clear demands by customers for more passenger space, better practicality, and improved consumption & emissions. The new model, coded internally as ‘F40,’ has already been seen doing its rounds at BMW’s proving grounds in Miramas but now, it’s pulling back its visually-protective covers and revealing itself, one patch at a time.
These images were shared by BMW on Instagram, featuring a 1er prototype sans any body cladding, with bits of its pearl-white paint finished revealed, beginning with the roof. The social media updates reveal a pair of headlights that clearly take the hexagonal light signature from the newest BMW models, flanking a larger one-piece kidney grille that feature active shutters for improved aerodynamics. There’s also a surprisingly intricate front bumper with a near full-width blacked-out lower section, which highlights a pair of body-coloured ‘tusks’ that outline the fog-light surrounds.
Round the rear you’ll find a rather distinctive pair of taillights with an internal design element that curves upwards before coming back down again, a way for BMW to keep the 1er’s design in line with the rest of the range without having to create (expensive, complex) 3D-effect taillights.
It’s highly likely that the vehicle that’s slowly revealing itself to the camera is not the top-spec M135i xDrive variant, given the number of leaked photographs of that variant that have been circulating online. The top M-badged cars feature grey grille surrounds and more aggressive bumpers, whereas this looks like a tamer and more reasonable looking model.
We’ve been spoilt with a glimpse of the cabin, which reveals a fully-digital instrument cluster powered by OS7.0, as evidenced by the dial design. What’s also obvious is that the steering wheel is an all-new design, lacking the ‘indicator’ lights above the steering-wheel controls that tell you about the status of the car’s self-driving functions. This again indicates that the 1er being teased is a bread-and-butter model rather than a top-flight all-bells-and-whistles version, as there’s little doubt in our minds that BMW would want to throw all its latest ADAS tech into this thing if given the chance.
The big change with the 1-Series, as we mentioned earlier, will be the migration to the FAAR architecture (which means ‘frontantriebsarchitektur,’ or front-wheel drive architecture). Shared with the MINI range, this will give the new 1er access to the full range of transversely-mounted 3- and 4-banger mills, topping out with the 2.0-litre M135i with 225kW and 450Nm running the same engine as in the X2 M35i. Considering that that SUV can hit 100km/h in just 4.9-seconds, can you imagine how blisteringly-fast the new 1er is going to be?