BMW 1-Series (2004 - 2011)
Less is Better
Does it look better? Removing the door has made a world of difference. The five-door 1-Series resembles a sporty estate, but this three-door variant is a stunning hatchback! Both doors are now so large that the 1-Series barely resembles an estate anymore. Less doors, better effect.
Along with the introduction of a three-door version, the 1-Series has also had work done to the front. The lines along the side and under the bumpers are slightly more accentuated, which gives the car a more mature visual impact irregardless the number of doors.
The interior remains unchanged. In the front the BMW is an averagely roomy car. The space in the rear is moderate. With the square rear, the available boot space can be used to the maximum.
Fewer buttons is better
The facelift was also an opportunity to introduce a number of new options. The 1-Series has a USB port, allowing MP3s to be played directly from a memory card. As an alternative, there is also a special iPod connection.
Depending on the model the 1-Series can be equipped with "iDrive". This system, which combines audio with a navigation system and climate control in a one-touch visual display multimedia system, has been over the years improved further. It is by far the best of its genre. Fewer buttons IS better.
Less weight is better
It may not seem logical but with this entry level car, BMW has a model with the best steering capacity. The more expensive models offer a more even balance between comfort and sportiness. However, with the 1-Series, BMW has chosen expressly to go with driving pleasure. The chassis is considerably stiffer than other BMWs. Consequently the whole experience is more intense than that of 3 or 5-Series.
BMW achieves this through a number of factors. The most important of which is the reduction in weight through the use of aluminium and plastic. As much as possible the remaining weight is distributed evenly over the front and back wheels. A light car can change direction more easily and also if the balance is right, even an stranger can feel directly that the 1-Series steers better than many other cars.
The rear wheel drive also chips in. Because it is only the front wheels which steer, there is no extra force on these wheels. The car feels better for this. Or in other words - whoever loves driving, will be seriously addicted to the 1-Series within no time at all.
Less consumption is better
Continuing with the addictive nature, the renewed 1-Series is, regardless of the number of doors, equipped with more powerful engines. Thanks to the well thought-out technology, these engines in spite of their increased power are more environmentally friendly. BMW has taken relatively simple measures which appear to be extremely effective during the test drive.
The first of which is the stop/start system. When the car is at a standstill, with the gears in neutral and the clutch released, the engine stops. As soon as it is put into first gear, the engine starts again. This works tremendously quickly in reality, without any inconvenient delays when pulling away. In comparison with other similar systems, the driver of the BMW can choose to leave the engine running by keeping the clutch depressed.
The engine block is much lighter and internal friction has been kept to a minimum. Cars with a manual gearbox are equipped with a gear indicator which denotes the best time to change gear in order to drive more efficiently.
Less wastage is better
Parts which would normally have been mechanical are now electronic. This includes the water pump, the oil pump and the power steering. These mechanical pumps work mostly at full power even when it is not necessary. By choosing electronic models it is possible to use these parts only when necessary.
However waste prevention is only half the story. The energy which is normally lost from braking or coasting is now stored in a battery. By using this "free" energy for the electric pumps, there is a considerable saving.
According to measurements from BMW it appears that all these processes ensure that the majority of their engines variants need one second less for the 0 to 60 miles/hr sprint. At the same time the fuel efficiency increases by 5 miles per gallon.
The test car was provided with a 2 litre four cylinder engine which was good up to 170 hp. When driven quickly with this 120i, the 1-Series is a total fun machine and a very quick car. The consumption is just over 33 miles per gallon. When the driver does everything to conserve fuel, it is possible to increase that to 46 miles per gallon. During the whole test drive, the average consumption was around 36 miles per gallon. More power, less consumption - a beautiful combination.
Painful as it was, the renewed BMW 1-Series had to go back to the manufacturer. The car is noticeably quicker and measurably more efficient. The environmentally friendly measures have had no effect on the driving pleasure of the car; the weight reduction has only made the 1-Series even more dynamic. The new 3-door model has a completely different appearance; one door less and the 1-Series has a lot more allure.