This week BMW revealed the new 1-series hatchback, a car that is designed to compete with the Audi A3, and Volkswagen Golf. Sales should start in September in mainland Europe and will probably land in overseas countries closer to 2012.
It is based on the next generation 3-series, and when sales begin in September, it will only be available as a five-door hatchback. Throughout its lifetime, the 1-series will spawn up to six variants, probably including a coupe, cabriolet, and a three-door hatchback.
Engines will be broadly similar to the current line-up, with added emphasis on fuel economy and environmental awareness. As with the previous generation, and is the norm with all BMWs, power is sent to the rear wheels. There will also be a top of the range 128i, with 245bhp and 330Nm of torque that will be a direct rival to the Golf GTi.
It is the styling that will be the key selling point of this car. The original 1-series sold well because of its distinctive style. This new one, however, seems a bit too ambitious for its own good. It incorporates a shark-nosed front with headlights that taper to a point, whilst maintaining essentially the same look in profile. The rear headlights look like they were stolen from a VW Polo and then stuck to an ordinary 1-series. The interior is just a refreshed version of the current 1-series.
The worst problem this car, and indeed its predecessor had, is that some people would think that you have just bought a fake BMW. Also to buy such a car one would have to fork out quite a lot of money for a well-specced model, which I doubt is really worth it just for the sake of a badge. Frankly a car like the new Ford Focus is a much better car, with a good range of engines, a great interior and just as much room as any other car in this category. All cars with exception to the 1-series and the A3 are quite good, it is just a matter of finding one that fits your own personal taste. My main arguement against cars like the 1-series and A3, is that they are just other, cheaper cars with a premium badge and a heftier price tag, which strikes me as a waste of money. However, if what you want is a hatchback for a lot of money with very distinctive styling and a BMW badge, here is the car for you.