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The all new BMW 1 Series Hatchback surprises with a generous interior space and a high level of driving dynamism.

01 Oct 2019

If you're looking for a quality hatchback, the BMW 1 Series is undoubtedly it.

Aside from the M135i, the other variant we drove was the 118d that you see here on this very page. It is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel that's good for 147bhp and a delicious 350Nm of torque. Unfortunately, it isn't coming to Singapore.

Why talk about it then?

While the diesel variants won't make it here, Singapore will be launching two petrol-driven variants - the 118i and the hot-blooded M135i.

While we will get petrol-driven variants in Singapore like the hot-blooded M135i (left), we won't get diesels like the 118d (right)

Powertrain options aside, the 1 Series is a hatchback that has illustrated why it's the best in class.

Setting standards in the segment

First off, it is a well-equipped car. Two 10.25-inch screens greet you when you enter the 1 Series, one of which works as a digital instrument display.

Both are powered by BMW's latest Operating System 7.0, which includes gesture controls. Looking for more tactile control of infotainment? A familiar iDrive controller can still be found on the centre console.

The 1 Series sports two crisp 10.25-inch displays - one for infotainment functions, the other as a digital gauge display

Also, fit and finish in the cabin is of high quality. A nice mix of gloss surfaces, leather and metal fittings make the 1 Series feel more upmarket, and less of an entry level model to the BMW range.

Infotainment and quality fittings aside, the shift to front-wheel drive has helped the 1 Series further in terms of practicality too. There is more room compared to the outgoing model - up to 33mm more legroom, and 13mm more headroom.

With more room, the 1 Series can now comfortably sit three in the rear, an improvement over the outgoing model

The increased interior proportions also mean the 1 Series is now a car that's easier to get in and out of than before.

At the same time, boot space is now 380 litres - 20-litres more, with a wider, more practical berth to fit large items with ease.

All that is achieved even though the 1 Series is in fact 5mm shorter than before at 4,319mm.

Sharp and refined

On the go, the 118d proves to be comfortable and refined for long journeys, yet, doesn't fall short when you do push it around corners. The car never feels sloppy - damping is excellent, and body roll is minimal.

The 118d is still impressive behind the wheel, despite the shift to front-wheel drive

It feels much tighter and sharper than the outgoing model. Plus, with a shorter snout up front, it is much easier to place on the road.

Out of corners and up steep Austrian mountain roads, the 118d feels strong and willing, too. With torque available from a low 1,750rpm, the powerplant offers the 1 Series a point and squirt character you seldom expect from cars in its segment.

The 118d's 2.0-litre turbodiesel is a strong powerplant

Yet, with spirited mountain road driving, we still managed an average fuel consumption figure of 14.9km/L.

I want 1 right now

Despite the big change from rear to front-wheel drive, the 1 Series is a success. It is rich in features and practicality, yet, it has the same level of dynamism behind the wheel one would expect from a BMW.

Sharper, more practical and better equipped, the 1 Series is a class-leading hatchback

The same qualities we've mentioned about the 118d can also be found in the petrol-driven 118i that's available in Singapore. That is powered by a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder that will put down 138bhp and 220Nm of torque to the front wheels.

It is unfortunate that a diesel just isn't a feasible option to consider, no thanks to our strict emissions regulations. But if you're looking for a quality hatchback, the 1 Series is undoubtedly it.
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