BMW 1 Series (2019) Launch Review


BMW is hosting its second M Festival at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit from 26 to 27 October 2019. Gero Lilleike attended the media day, which marks the start of the festival, to sample the new 1 Series premium hatchback!

Local BMW fans are in for a treat at the 2nd-ever M Festival this weekend, where the public will be able to view and test drive various BMW products while also being entertained with music, food and activities for the whole family. We had the opportunity to sample a range of new BMW products that are now available in South Africa. 

New BMW 1 Series in SA 

The new 1 Series is here and it now features a front-wheel-drive layout. BMW will initially offer the new 1 Series in 118i guise as well as the M135i xDrive. The 118i is powered by a 3-cylinder, 1.5-litre turbopetrol engine with 103 kW and 220 Nm of torque and mated with a 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch transmission that drives the front wheels. Zero to 100 kph for the 118i is claimed at 8.5 seconds with a top speed of 213 kph. Fuel consumption is claimed at 5.7-5.0 L/100km.

For more performance, buyers can opt for the M135i xDrive, which is a rival to the Mercedes-Benz AMG A35, Audi S3 and Volkswagen Golf R. Power is delivered courtesy of a 2.0-litre turbopetrol engine producing 225 kW and 450 Nm of torque. Using an 8-speed sport transmission and equipped with all-wheel drive, the M135i xDrive will dash from 0 to 100 kph in 4.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 250 kph. BMW claims an average fuel consumption figure of 7.1-6.8 L/100km. 

Key features

The new 1 Series cabin can be equipped with a wide range of useful features, including BMW's Live Cockpit Professional. 

The new BMW 118i rides on 16-inch light-alloy wheels as standard as is cloth upholstery. You can, of course, upgrade to 17/18-inch wheels and leather upholstery if you wish. Connected Package Professional is standard with integrated navigation but nice-to-haves such as BMW's Live Cockpit Professional is optionally available. Buyers can opt for the base-level 118i or choose between Sport Line and M Sport trim. 

The new BMW M135i xDrive rides on 18-inch, double-spoke, light-alloy wheels (but 19-inch rims are optionally available). The interior features a combination of Trigon cloth and black Alcantara as standard while Dakota leather is an option. 

The flagship derivative features an M steering wheel and BMW’s Connected Professional infotainment system. Gesture control, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, wireless charging, BMW Live Cockpit Professional and a Harmon Kardon Surround Sound System can be had as an option. M Sport brakes and M Sport suspension is standard (Adaptive damping is optional).

Other key standard features include cruise control, climate control, front and rear electric windows, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers and integrated navigation. Safety features include 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, brake assist and stability control with traction control. 

What’s the new 1 Series like to drive? 

The 118i proved to be relatively comfortable on poor road surfaces and overall performance was reasonably good. 

We drove the new 118i on public roads in Gauteng, more specifically, The Cradle of Humankind. The roads in this area are of poor quality and provided a good test for the 1 Series' ride quality. We found the 118i's suspension to be suitably pliant and it handled the uneven road surfaces well. The ride is mostly comfortable without being too firm and the cabin, as you would expect from a premium product, exudes good build quality; the cabin seems well insulated from wind, road and engine noises. In that respect, the 1 Series' interior is much improved over its predecessor's. 

In terms of performance, the 3-cylinder, 1.5-litre turbopetrol engine has just about enough shove to satisfy most non-performance-oriented 1 Series buyers' needs. Acceleration off the line is good, if undramatic, and the 118i gets up to highway speed in an effortless, refined manner. The steering is light in hand and quite responsive to inputs, but it does have an artificial vagueness to it that takes a little bit away from the driving experience.  

It's worth mentioning that the 1 Series' cabin is a bit more spacious too now that it's front-wheel drive and BMW claims load space at 380 litres which expands to 1 200 litres with the rear seats folded down. Those figures are on par with other products in the premium compact hatch segment such as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and Audi A3. As for the M135i xDrive, we sadly weren't able to drive it on the day (read our international driving impression), but we look forward to testing the new 1 Series more thoroughly when it joins our test fleet in the near future...

BMW 1 Series - Price in South Africa

118i - R481 910 
M135i xDrive - R705 452

A 2-year/unlimited warranty and a 5-year/100 000km maintenance plan is standard.

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