The BMW 1 Series Is the Mercedes-Fighting Hot Hatch We Don’t Get

by Heather Platt | Posted on Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

How low should luxury automakers go? While Mercedes introduces two relatively affordable sedans and as Acura cuts the ILX’s price by a staggering $2,200, BMW lacks a four-door entry-level car in the U.S. A fix to that will arrive in the form of the 2 Series Gran Coupe, a car we drove in prototype form in Germany—stay tuned for our review on July 23 at 3:01 p.m. PT. But when we attended BMW’s #NextGen show in Munich to showcase the automaker’s many promising future-tech endeavors, the 1 Series hatch stopped us in our tracks.

BMW 1 Series

So should the BMW 1 Series hatchback come to the U.S. as a price-leading model below the upcoming 2 Series Gran Coupe? Here are our impressions based on time spent exploring the car in Germany.

So M Sporty

The 118d hatch I examined was powered by a small diesel engine that will never see the U.S. market, but you’d never know it by looking at the car’s M Sport package. Although M Sport models also add a revised suspension and extra equipment, the most meaningful upgrade is the way it enhances the new 1’s already improved exterior design with just the right amount of sporty aesthetic details. For hot hatch fans who appreciate the status of a luxury brand, the styling of this 1—in M Sport form—is a winner, especially from the rear view.

Not What I Expected

BMW’s U.K. consumer site credits the new 1 Series’ front-wheel-drive architecture for adding more headroom and legroom than the previous model. Although I can’t speak to the last-gen hatch’s interior, I was surprised by the new 1 Series’ back seat.

Where’d YOU Come From?

Some 1 Series models in Europe will offer a power-opening liftgate, but that’s not what impressed me about the 1 Series’ cargo area. Actually, it’s a hidden underfloor storage compartment that extends nearly the entire length of the cargo floor. Plus, it’s quite deep; it nearly fit my overstuffed backpack.

If BMW ever wanted to seriously undercut the Mercedes-Benz A 220 in price, a 118i hatch would do the trick. Hatch fans may like the sporty looks of the new 1 Series, and folks with small parking spots will value that the 1 Series hatch is about 4 inches shorter than the already tiny 2 Series coupe.


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