With BMW rolling out this updated 1 Series, we’re feeling a bittersweet tinge at the arrival of an objectively better/refined version of the F20 as well as the prospect of it being the last revision before the all-new model finishes its testing phase and replaces it on the showroom floor - marking the end of the small rear-drive hatch.
Back to the car at hand, which presents a relatively thin list of actual changes over the outgoing one. But with this generation stretching back to 2011, BMW has done all it can to keep it current, updating it in 2015 and making this their second go around. It’s essentially the same car, with very few or significant changes made to mechanicals or design.
The most noteworthy alteration made to the 1 Series, from the owner’s perspective, is the updated iDrive infotainment system, which is still displayed through an 8.8-inch centrally mounted widescreen display and primarily controlled via a rotary dial along the centre tunnel, but the LCD panel is now made touch sensitive (with the Navigation System Professional selected) and supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
However, there are no changes to the range hierarchy or engine output, but there are some black-accented cosmetic newness given to those who purchase the optional ‘Shadow’ edition models as well as new exterior colours and wheel designs to choose across all trim levels.
As before, there will be a selection of turbocharged inline 3-, 4-, and 6-cylinder engines on offer, beginning with the 1.5-litre three-pot for the entry-level 118i and ending with the 3.0-litre six in the M140i mega hatch. Some markets will offer it with the xDrive all-wheel system but no doubt most will be sold as rear-driven units. A 6-speed manual option will be offered but, again, an 8-speed ZF automatic will be likely be the more popular choice.
After 2018, though, this 1 Series will have to concede the flame of life to its all-new replacement, a redesigned car based on the BMW Group’s front-driven UKL platform that currently underpins the MINI hatches as well as the 2 Series Active Tourer.