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New BMW 1 Series packs top-tier tech and a sharper look

Yeah, it's a front-wheel-drive platform, but who cares?


Not every BMW coming from Europe is destined to arrive in the US, but every new release does give us an idea of what to expect from future offerings at similar price points. To that end, the 1 Series looks like quite the promising car.

BMW this week unveiled its all-new 1 Series. Riding on a transverse front-wheel-drive architecture, the new 1 Series will likely rankle the cankles of the BMW elitists who believe everything should be rear-drive. But looking at the whole of what's offered, the new 1er looks to be a proper Bimmer with the latest tech and some decent looks.

The exterior keeps the family face alive, adopting looks from every other new BMW, from the X2 all the way up to the 8 Series. The headlights are slimmer, the taillights are a little more expressive and, unlike some other Bimmers, the grille appears appropriately sized for the vehicle.

While the 1 Series is unlikely to come to the US, some parts of it may arrive in the form of the 2 Series Gran Coupe.


The interior plays it pretty close to the chest, too. There's a new optional digital gauge cluster, and the iDrive infotainment screen better blends into the dashboard. Polygonal shapes are everywhere, from the door handles to the shape of the dashboard itself. Like other new BMWs, most of the non-climate-control switches have been relegated to a single area around the shifter. The inside does pick up some new tricks, though, including a panoramic glass roof and backlit trim pieces.

On the tech front, the new 1 Series picks up the latest iteration of BMW's iDrive infotainment system. Both screens can be optioned as large as 10.25 inches, and a 9.2-inch head-up display is available, too. Check the right options boxes, and the 1 Series will be able to navigate parallel and perpendicular parking itself. Near-field communication allows the driver's phone to act as a key. Gesture control is available, too, as is an intelligent assistant that responds when you say, "Hey, BMW." Automatic braking and lane-departure warning are standard in Europe, while adaptive cruise control is optional.

When the 1 Series launches, it will be offered with five engine variants. Three diesel engines are on offer, in addition to two gas engines. In its most powerful iteration, the BMW M135i will put out 306 horsepower and reach 62 miles per hour in 4.8 seconds. Depending on the engine, buyers will be able to equip a six-speed manual transmission, an eight-speed automatic or a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Both front- and all-wheel drive are available.

While it's unlikely that the 1 Series will come to the US, we're set to receive a front-drive 2 Series Gran Coupe in the near future, and many of the benefits in the new 1 Series will likely show up in that car in the US. We'll find out for sure when it debuts.

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