• Sep 14, 2007
Click the image above for a host of live high-res pics of the BMW 1-series.

Of all the vehicles that made their debut at this year's Frankfurt Motor Show, one will likely have more impact on North American enthusiasts than any other. The BMW 1-series is outfitted with nearly everything your average motorphile could want: small size, big power, front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 50/50 weight distribution -- the list goes on and on. That's why, rather than rattling off a few sentences littered with a handful of jokes and statistics, we wanted to spend a bit more time on the 1-series, much the way you would if you had attended the show.





BMW had no qualms about making the connection to the 2002 when presenting its newest entrant into the 1-series lineup. The presentation included the stereotypical short-attention span cuts that went back and forth between details shots of the crimson coupe and film of the 2002 running in countless motorsports events. Once the show was over and the crowd dissipated, we took our time for a long walk around the 135i model, one of two that were on display.

The styling language of the new 1-series coupe is more attractive in person than the press shots (and even ours) would indicate. Whether or not you're a flame-surfacing fan will likely dictate if you're partial to the coupe's angular front end and dramatic swage line running the length of the car. BMW chose a deep red for the 1's launch color, and it's striking enough, in an understated way. There was a jet black 123d on hand as well, but it held less visual cachet than the 135i on its right.

Size wise, it's comparable to the E36 3-series coupe, coming in at 172 inches, versus the previous generation 3-series coupe at 174 inches. Size is probably one of the defining characteristics of the 1, but for cash-strapped buyers (or bloggers) it deserves mention that a second hand E36 M3 could be had for well under half the price.



After a number of hyper-obsessive laps around the car to take in details and snap photos, we finally lifted the handle on the driver's side door and slid into the 1's mildly bolstered black leather throne. The quarters inside are hardly cramped, but this is coming from a blogger who is 5' 10" and just over 140 pounds. We'd guess that a few super-sized frames might find the 1-series to be a little cramped, and may be better suited upgrading to the marque's (former) entry-level offerings.



Regardless, once you've gotten the seat adjusted to your liking, everything important falls to hand immediately. The steering wheel is suitably chunky and the six-speed shifter is easily at the ready with only a few inches of travel from the 3-o'clock position. The gas and brake are perfectly placed for some pre-corner heel-and-toe action. The gauges should be an easy read, as will the iDrive display that pivots back from the middle of the dash to reveal a right-sized screen. Climate controls are easily accessed and the passenger side co-pilots should be in good shape after a long journey. Those unfortunate enough to get stuck in the back seat are another matter. We've seen worse, but we've also seen better – make sure that if you're taking friends along for a trip, it's just to pick up some groceries or for a quick dynamic sample of the turbo'd three-liter mill. The aforementioned groceries shouldn't be a tight squeeze in the trunk, as it looks to provide ample room for a few pieces of luggage or maybe even a couple of tires and wheels for a track-day excursion.

Until we get behind the wheel of either the 128i or 135i, there's not much more we can report. But if there's any manufacturer that can do the FR layout, it's BMW. And judging by what we've seen so far, the 1-series could be the driver's delight of the decade.



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  • 31 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      That's my next car
      • 7 Years Ago
      I can't wait till these come out. If the price is right, I'm pretty sure this will be my new daily driver. It's about time BMW brought this to North America.
      • 7 Years Ago
      BMVay just wants to push the Three-series up market (read:price).So they swoop in underneath with a sub-$30K priced offering. But with mandatory options and an automatic and ADP, up to 3 territory. So then next year or two, the 3's can go to low 40k's-hi 40k's.
      Likewise the 5s can go up too.
      Also it brings traffic into the dealer and gets business for the 3 series, which looks great by comaprison and "almost" the same price for more car.
      /just marketing 201...
      • 7 Years Ago
      This is just a European Corolla on steroids
        • 7 Years Ago
        I can only wish Toyota would make rwd corollas
        • 7 Years Ago
        So Toyota's making RWD Corollas again?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Please make an M version...with all the suspension stuff...like a CSL version with maybe 330+ hp and KEEP THE WEIGHT LOW...then maybe it will replace my STi one day.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I believe the link to the gallery is broken.
      • 7 Years Ago
      where is the hatchback!?!?!? I can't believe bmw couldnt justify bringing even a limited quantity of the hatchback which i think is ten times sexier not to mention more viable for daily use and for those with families. $30k for a coupe is just not worth it...
      • 7 Years Ago
      I have been tracking the 1-series as long as anyone I think. When I saw the first model as a 4-door avant/hatch I was in love. Great lines, 4 doors, hatch convenience, lower cost, great engines (only wish they offered the 120d). But then we in the US get this thing.

      Here's the part I just don't understand; the market for coupes is absolutely floundering. In the US, outside of some niche market sports cars, those companies that offer a 2 door coupe version of a 4 door vehicle (e.g.- Solara vs Camry, 3-series 2d vs 4d, 5- vs 6- series, S70 vs C70, C-class vs CLK, etc..) sell significantly more of the 4 door versions.

      And yet, they quote some antiquated view that "Americans won't buy hatchbacks". Like the Matrix, Mazda3, Golf, Focus, Fit, A3, Accent, MINI, Eclipse, 350Z, Versa, tC, xD, Rondo, Prius, Yaris, Reno, and Beetle. And let's not even get into virtually every SUV and minivan that, with a rear lift gate, is essentially a hatchback.

      The 4 door hatch offers easier access for passengers, more storage space, better aerodynamics, more flexibility, while maintaining the same engine offerings and adding a bit of weight to the rear for better balance. Not to mention that, inmy opinion, the 1-series 4-door hatch looked stunning compared to this offering.

      I think I will forever be disappointed in what we are doomed to have to drive in the US compared to what is offered elsewhere.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Only the 128 will start under 30k. 135 will start at least mid 30's and won't have many optiosn to choose since the 'base' model will have most options standard. Including 6 piston calipers up front and 4 piston rears. From what I've read every 135 in the US will have the M package.
      This car won't be cheap, its a bimmer. You want a cheap bimmer move out of the US.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Actually, the least expensive Bimmers will be found in the U.S. While there are BMWs with smaller engines for sale overseas, the prices are often higher than the "entry-level" BMWs sold in the U.S. due to taxes on imported cars and engine displacement. The dollar's historic low exchange rate compared to the Euro is also a factor in pricing.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I would have loved to compare this to the new R32.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Does anybody know how much dino juice will this thing drink?
        • 7 Years Ago
        Fuel economy tests for cars are done using weight classes so if it's only a couple hundred of pounds lighter, it would only test one 125 lb weight class lower. So, the sticker might not show more than a 1 mpg improvement. In real driving though, you might squeeeze out a couple of mpg extra. This is all true assuming the gearing and tuning stays the same as the 3 Series.

        I just can't get over the looks of this thing though. It looks like it was meant to be smaller, but they had to cram stuff inside so it has those weird bulges and contours. For the record, I do like the 3 Series design.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I've had the pleasure of driving a 1-series a few months ago, although it was a rather anemic 120 (not a 120d). The chassis was all there and then some, but as you might have guessed, the engine wasn't. A very solid car that handles well. When you're throwing it around, you can tell it weighs more than a Miata, er, MX-5, but it does hide it's girth well. It was also the five door version, which sadly won't be making a state-side appearance. It’s a shame too, I’d be willing to trade in my RX-8 for a more practical (and less thirsty) 120d hatchback any day.
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