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Hatchback wars: all-new BMW 1 Series takes on VW Golf as well as the Merc A-Class

By Paul Connolly

BMW’s all-new 1 Series has gone on sale in the UK and Ireland - bigger and better than before and loaded with new tech and kit.

The third-generation hatchback is available now priced from £24,430, with first deliveries at the end of the summer.

The car has been re-engineered and redesigned to make it roomier, more efficient and with a front wheel drive powertrain.

The change puts the 1 Series again into direct combat with the Mercedes A-Class – and also the ever-popular VW Golf.

The new model has a sportier design, improved handling and agility plus lower emissions, more power, improved fuel efficiency and an array of new driver assistant systems. It’s also 30kg lighter than before.

There are five models available: two petrols and three diesels, although it’s likely hybrid and even pure electric versions will come along soon.

On the outside, the 1 Series features a shorter bonnet, a more wedged shaped silhouette, a new headlamp arrangement and a pronounced ‘shark nose’. At the front, the BMW kidney grille is larger and, for the first time in this model range, the kidneys merge in the middle.

There is significantly more space than before, although the overall footprint remains similar. At 4,319 millimetres, the new model is five millimetres shorter, 34 millimetres wider and 13 millimetres higher. At 2,670 millimetres, the wheelbase is 20 millimetres shorter.

Inside, an extra 33 millimetres of kneeroom is available. Rear headroom is up by 19 millimetres when the outward opening panoramic sunroof is fitted.

Rear passengers also enjoy 13 millimetres more elbowroom, while the driver and front passenger get extra 42 millimetres wiggle room for their elbows.

Luggage compartment capacity rises by 20 litres to 380 litres (1,200 litres with the rear seat bench folded down).

The interior, set off nicely with a driver-orientated cockpit, features better-quality materials and the new BMW Operating System 7.0 – with optional gesture control – which can be controlled via 10.25-inch screen. A panoramic roof is available as an option for the first time.

There are four trims: SE, Sport, M Sport and a range-topping, all-wheel drive M135i xDrive.

SE comes with matt black air guide grilles on the front bumper, while Sport adds exclusive air inlets finished with a high-gloss black, the kidney grille features a chrome frame with high-gloss black struts.

The M Sport features aerodynamic bodystyling as well as satin aluminium struts in the kidney grille whilst the seat upholstery is in Dakota leather with contrast stitching.

The flagship M135i xDrive incorporates the mesh-design BMW kidney grille and frame, exclusive front bumper air inlet clasps, and wing mirrors all finished in Cerium Grey.

BMW says the new 1 Series features the actuator contiguous wheel slip limitation (ARB) technology used in the BMW i3s. This is the first time it has been used in a combustion-engine car and it has the effect of “significantly improving traction when pulling away, cornering or when driving in the wet.”

Under the bonnet, the car is powered by three-cylinder and four-cylinder engines with improved performance, efficiency and emissions.

The star of the engine show is the new 2.0-litre unit under the bonnet of the M135i xDrive model – which BMW says is the company’s most powerful four-cylinder petrol engine.

It delivers 306hp with the help of BMW TwinPower Turbo technology and peak torque is 450Nm. It accelerates from zero to 62mph in 4.8 seconds, while top speed is limited to 155mph. The M135i xDrive officially returns 35.3-34.4mpg and emits 157-155g/km of CO2.

The entry-level model, the 118i, is powered by a three-cylinder petrol unit that officially returns up to 47 mpg and generates 140 bhp.

As you’d expect, the car is packed with the latest BMW tech and driver assists including cruise control with braking as standard.

Other standard assists include collision and pedestrian warning with city braking function, which also alerts the driver to the presence of cyclists, and lane departure warning.

The all-new BMW 1 Series is on sale now, for delivery in September.

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