BMW revealed the completely re-engineered 1 Series, with the range-topping M135i model featuring all-wheel-drive for the first time. BMW is pitching the hatchback against the likes of Volkswagen Golf R and Mercedes-AMG A35.

The BMW 1 Series has been a rear-wheel-driven car since it was launched in 2004. For its current generation, BMW chose to switch to a front-wheel-drive platform in order to improve the hatchback’s interior space and practicality. The model shares its FAAR architecture with the X1 and X2 SUVs, as well as the Mini Countryman.

all new BMW 1 Series

BMW maintains that despite losing its RWD drivetrain, the 1 Series still offers an involving, dynamically excellent drive.

Despite going FWD, the 1 Series aims to offer a dynamic driving experience, especially in the M135i hot-hatch trim. Product manager Jochen Schmalholz said, “We put a lot of effort into producing a car that combined both advantages, and still drove and handled like BMW customers would expect.”

The BMW M135i offers maximum performance using the firm’s xDrive AWD system, which sends up to 50 percent of the power to the rear axle when needed. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder twin-turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the M version is good for 302hp and 450Nm, driven through an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

While the engine offers less power and torque compared to the previous-gen car’s 335hp inline-six, BMW insists it offers comparable real-world performance. This is possible thanks to a stiffer and lighter chassis than before. BMW has shaved 20kg from the chassis, managing to give the hatchback a zero to 100kph time of 4.8 seconds, which is just 0.2 seconds slower than before. The top speed is the same as before, locked electronically at 250kph.

BMW Series 1

Through extensive customer feedback, BMW arrived at the conclusion that the 1 Series would benefit from more interior space.

For its new generation, the 1 Series takes inspiration from the modern Z4. All variants feature a multi-link rear axle and are fitted with BMW’s Performance Control system as standard. At launch, the BMW 1 Series will start from the entry-level 118i trim good for 138hp, all the way to the M135i.

Inside, low-end trims get an 8.8-inch infotainment touchscreen that is gesture and voice controlled. Higher-end variants get two 10.25-inch displays with a digital instrument cluster and a colour head-up display.