Second Generation 1 Series Takes Shape

With hundreds of thousands sold worldwide BMW has created an enormous hit with the 1 Series. Available in four body styles the car has brought typical BMW characteristics to the modern small car market while creating renewedexcitement among both old and young BMW enthusiasts. So where does BMW go from here?

As much as the 1er has been successful there have been a couple notable issues brought-up by the motoring press and enthusiasts. First are the looks. Totally subjective but it ‘s worth noting that the design has been somewhat polarizing. Secondly weight. Being based so heavily on the E90 3 Series the 1 Series has always been surprisingly portly.

With the 2012 1 Series BMW hopes to right both of those wrongs to some degree. While we don ‘t expect the weight to decrease substantially, we ‘ve been told to expect a car that takes advantage of low-cost weight saving technology found throughout BMW ‘s current range. Further BMW will focus on packaging (especially on the hatchback) to bring it a little more inline with the space found in the Golf and other similar sized hatches. Then finally there will be several new high output 4 cylinder engines starting from the 1.6L mill found in the latest JCW MINI to an updated version of the 3.0L twin turbo engine featuring over 330 bhp.

Then there ‘s the look. We ‘ve been told by sources to expect a more aggressive upright stance that will play off of the CS concept grill design in a new way.

Debuting initially will be two hatchbacks, the 3 door and 5 door (currently not available in the US market). There are no plans at this time to bring either to the US market but that could always change. Following a year and a half later will be the coupe and convertible versions. Look for sleeker, less chunky, lines and a noticeably wider track on all of the new 1 Series.

Finally a full two years after the initial launch we should see the much rumored BMW Z2 roadster. If rumors are true the Z2 will be a light weight version of the 1 Series with two seats, a cloth top and a variety of 4 cylinder powerplants. Think of it as an updated version of the late 90 ‘s Z3 roadster.

Much of this information has been floating around in our inbox for months but until just recently we hadn ‘t confirmed it with any trusted sources.

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  • JonPD

    All very good news! I adore the 1 series but have always hesitated to pick on up because they are just plainly way to heavy. I would be happy to see 200lbs minimum off the car and think ~500 would be great. Fantastic news about the Z2, could be a fun car indeed.

  • bmw

    they will finally fix that horrible design and mammoth weight!

  • Cropnice

    Sounds like BMW is following what VW/Audi has been doing for years. Thats a good thing.

  • cct1

    Will the next gen 1-series share the 3 series platform, or will the Z2 and 1 series be on an entirely seperate platform? I think I remember reading it was the latter. Any more news on what we might expect from a sport version of the 2nd gen. 1 series? If they’re finally serious about shedding weight, dropping in a lightweight 4 popper, and dedicating a platform specifically to the 1 series, we might finally be getting back to the sweet spot, what many of us wanted from the 1 series to begin with–the current 1 is very nice, but still somewhat disappointing–its not overwhelming, and when its all said and done, it’s just not unique enough; it needs its own seperate niche rather than being something too close to the 335i.

    Great news about the Z2, but I’m still hoping for a Z2 coupe. Maybe a 2nd gen 1 seies coupe will fit the bill though; if the Z2/1-series share the same platform, it may not make much sense for BMW to build a Z2 coupe.

  • I’ve had my 135i since May 31st and there’s really nothing I would change about it. I don’t track my car though and it’s the fastest car I’ve ever had, so the hefty weight hasn’t bothered me. I guess maybe city MPG could be better, but for so much power it’s not bad. Plus, I drive like an idiot in city driving. Nonetheless, I’m excited to hear about and see the updates on the next gen.

  • The chances there will be a z2 coupe are slim to none, the z2 is still up for debate without adding a hard top, depending on the financial climate when it is time for these cars to begin there testing we may see some changes.

    In talking with some in the industry, BMW and other manufacturers have there hands completely tied and need to rethink everything planned b/c of pending legislation that will alter the fleet averages.

    BMW had to back off its stance that hybrids and electrics were not the answer in order to meet these averages (a stop gap). Though BMW is ahead of others in their search for efficiency (Efficient Dynamics) they still have some huge hurdles, one being getting consumers on board.

  • dewey

    I absolutely love my 1. It’s true the looks are not everybody’s cup of tea, I didn’t really care for it at first, but it grows on ya. As for the weight, never really noticed it as a problem, still is the fastest car I’ve ever driven or ridden in. If I was truly concerned about it, I might work alittle more on cutting the weight behind the steering wheel. 😉

  • cct1

    GSK/Dewey, I’m not knocking the 1 series as a daily driver, I like the 1, I think it would be a hoot to own as a sporty everyday driver, but from a performance standpoint between it and a 335i, its pretty much a wash (and unless you’re hitting the track, and this is a minority of owners, like you alluded to, it’s really not an important point).

    What many of us were hoping for was something light–the recent trend has been to build heavy cars, and put a boatload of HP, huge brakes and various forms of stability control into them to compensate for the weight. What you wind up with is a fast car that pretty much drives itself–still fun, but not as involving as a nimble, lightweight car that emphasizes what the driver is doing rather than what an onboard computer can do (Heck, an M3 or GT-R can make darned near any driver look good, except maybe my mother-in-law).

    So whatever BMW decides to do with the 1 for the mainstream, I still hope they will cut weight and improve the suspension (and maybe even make the 1 a little smaller)–if they do, the 1 has the potential to be a distinguished little track beast in its own right.

  • Dewey

    cct1: yeah you are absolutely right with your argument about a 135i and 335i being a wash in performance. Price is the 135i’s saving grace over the 335i. For 10 grand less you get the same performance and that is a huge selling point. Honestly when I was in the market for a new car i was really looking at the JCW factory MINI, but the difference in the price between that car and the 135i was negligible so I stepped up to the 135i. For MSRP the 328xi would have been a better fit for my lifestyle and as a daily driver, but i got such a good deal on the 135i I just couldn’t pass it up. Essentially, I believe what kills the 1 over here more than anything is the small price difference between a 135i and 328i. So, I feel that dealerships have a hard time selling the 135i, because most Americans still dislike small cars. So, they opt to go for the bigger car, with the smaller engine, for relatively the same price. When I went shopping every salesman’s interest noticeably peaked when they found out I was looking at a 1. I purchased mine in October, but the car had sat on the lot since the launch back in March, very old stock. That fact spoke volumes to me about the complete lack of interest in this car (at least in the Western NY area). Ultimately, if BMW wants to get more 1’s out of the door, they need to do just what you said, make it more special: lighter, faster, better handling, and dare we hope? less expensive.

  • Dewey- I also believe location has a lot to do with sales of the 1. You being in Western NY, I presume outside Rochester or Buffalo a 1 is not going to be a huge sales car. I have family there and attended my undergrad in Rochester and know the winters all too well. It takes a special person to buy a non-AWD car there. In the south (before the economy bombed) sales would have been much more so than in the snow belt.

    The other thing about the 1 is that BMWNA did not want it to be a huge volume car, it was another sportier option rather than a cheap BMW (been beaten to death…) What I see in the Metro NYC area is a lot of unsold 1er converts. Converts are another tough sell in the NY area, for obvious reasons and the price point with leasing with put the 328 convert less than the 1, that is not going to move many cars.

    Will BMW come out with a car that is a step of above the Golf, or Jetta, or A3 is really what I wonder, a car like that may have a better chance at sales volume than a straight RWD small sports coupe. The argument is brand dilution but with the current car economy I think that is the least of their worries.

    I love the 1 personally ;just has too few doors to meet my needs.

  • BMWPro77

    Me likey. I would rteally love to see the three door hatch 135i here in the U.S.

  • Chris B.

    I think it would be the smart thing to offer the 1er in hatchback form to U.S. customers for a variety of reasons. Chief among them; we all know gas is going to back up. Traditionally the first thing someone associates with fuel efficiency is some sort of compact car. Typically in hatchback form. Pair that body style with some sort of groundbreaking hybrid technology that consumers will see immediate value in and throw in the fun of owning a RWD performance vehicle and no doubt BMW WILL have a winner. Going forward NOT offering a small RWD BMW hatchback just doesn’t make sense. Worried about eating into MINI volume? Knock down a few g’s on the MINI’s models M.S.R.P.

  • Tom

    The 1-series front end is hideous. The car, with its oversized eyes locked in a permanent “surprised” state, looks like it’s a scared cartoon character.

    The body is stubby from the side. The 1-series ties with the X3 for the ugliest BMW award.

    The weight difference between a 135i and a 335i is just 200 lbs, except that with the 135i you get less functional space.

    If they shaved 300 more pounds off and redesigned the exterior to not be so comical, I would take it seriously.

  • Ken

    A MINI is not in the cards for my next car. The new design has never appealed to me and I would like to get back into a rear drive car. I rarely have need for more than three in my car so a 1 series would be perfect.

  • bmw

    Tom, I totally agree….it’s like they made it look bad on purpose since it’s performances are so close to the 3…to justify the lower price.

  • Ed

    Also agree with Tom. The 1er is flat-out ugly. Hopefully BMW’s new design language will filter down to the 1- series in the next generation.

  • Alex

    I wonder what you guys think about the new design direction of say, the 7 and 5 Series? I really have grown to like the 1 Series, and I say, see it in person if you haven’t.

    Of course, opinions on design are entirely subjective. To me, I think the 6 Series is the ugliest BMW out there because it looks like a shark. It is troubling that the CS concept is a leading indicator of BMW design. That concept car, while handsome, had an “overbite” shark nose.

    I think the new z4 is ugly, because it looks like a shark. I think the new 7 and 5s are both ugly, because they look like sharks, and way too generic looking to be BMW’s!

    I’m not looking forward to the new 1 series because of this shark nose. I know that it’s a historic BMW detail, but, we haven’t seen it on a BMW in like twenty years. It’s gone for a reason!

    The 1er looks wide-eyed, yes, but it is handsome in person, dare I say adorable. What hurts it more than anything else is the cost, weight and therefore fuel consumption, and lack of 4 doors. I would love a 128 or 135, but how can I give up the ease of throwing things in my back seat?

    I am looking forward to drivetrain and design improvements, possibly a tiny four door 1 series sedan, even x drive. They need to correct the cost issue on the 1 series.