Next Generation 1 Series Coupe & Convertible Previewed

2011 135i (N55)

In the final installment of Scott27 ‘s February update he spills what he know on the next generation 1 Series Coupe. It ‘s a good read but we wanted to make it a little better by combining it with some of our own information to give you the following report.

The Coupe and Convertible 1 Series has sold fairly well in the US. However there is some thought among BMWNA brass that the 135i wasn ‘t given enough differentiation over the 128i and thus didn ‘t sell as well as it could have. With more time to develop the shape of the coupe and the offerings of the 135i model in particular we expect BMW to go more aggressive with the new car. Specifically we expect BMW to fit a more powerful N55 (320 hp perhaps) with a more aggressive 135i specific bodykit.


BMW is keen to keep the proportion just right. The current E82 is almost as perfect as possible a reinterpretation of the classic E30 proportions (despite the “sow ” line that can be a problem for some). Speaking of that line on the lower portion of the door you can wave goodbye to it with the new car. In total the new coupe and convertible will be wider, longer and very slightly taller than the current car.

The next Cabrio will carry over that straight forward clean appearance of the current car with the new design but will retain it ‘s quick and lightweight soft top roof keeping costs and weight down.

But what will BMW call the cars? The rumor has been that BMW is looking to change the F22 and F23 name to the 2 Series. The idea is that it would help avoid confusion with the new family of FWD models also marketed under the 1 Series brand. It would also help in moving the cars slightly upmarket to correspond with a much higher level of premium options that will be available. Having seen the interior of the new 1er first-hand while in Munich last year, I can tell you that BMW is clearly trickling down the look and feel of it ‘s highest models (specifically the 5 and 7 series) to the new 1. From the buttons to the layout the new Series feels very grown-up and very much a premium small car.

As expect motivating all of this will be a range of engines from the new 3 cylinder family of turbo-charged engines to the N55 equipped 135i. In the US we expect a 128i 240 hp + four cylinder turbo and a 135i 300 hp + inline six turbo.

What does this all mean for the next generation 1M you ask? While details are scarce we expect the car to become slightly more tame (ie less wide rear fenders) due to a longer development cycle and less of a need to reuse the very wide M3 subframe and suspension. What about engines? M could use a high performance twin turbo four cylinder in place of a six cylinder to keep costs and weight down. But would buyers give up more power for less weight? It ‘s an intriguing thought but one that is very much rumor at this point. In fact the only thing we can say for certain is that the car won ‘t use the N54 engine in the current 1M.

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  • txdesign

    I noticed the vert in the pic is sporting the sexy euro only seats with leather side bolsters and fabric seating surfaces. I hope BMW NA will bring these to the US with the new model. For those of us in hot climates having fabric seating surfaces is simply a more comfortable option.

    And sigh, once again, the new model will be longer, wider and taller. The current 1-er is not exactly a lighweight. How much will this thing weigh?

  • goat

    @txdesign – With BMW and other OEM’s increasing focus on “lightweighting” I would not be surprised if weight does NOT go up with the next generation, despite the growth.

    The problem with the current e82 was not so much that it was heavy on an absolute basis… but that it weighed a couple of hundred lb more than you would think looking at its tidy footprint… and that for the 135i especially it was not far off the weight (or price, for that matter) of the much larger 335i.

    I also will say from driving/owning experience that the weight issue was exaggerated by far too much understeer tuned into the chassis, especially on the 135i, along with an overly soft stock ZSP suspension. This made the car plow disappointingly early at lower speed cornering and feel somewhat unstable at higher speed turns. In other words, the suspension tuning missed the mark and made it “drive heavy”. I suspect BMW knows this and will fix the slop and dial down the understeer bias on the new car.

    • @goat- BMW made a significant change in 2011 for the 135 by changing the spring rates and dampers. Understeer diminished a great deal but the sway bar mod is by far the best way to rid the understeer issue. If you ask me the body had a lot of flex and that did not help the situation. You can see by what M did with the 1M front strut bar that there was serious need of beefing up. Some have gone as far as running the rear wheels up front to help with the understeer.

      I do not think BMW expected to put such a big motor (or even make it a coupe at the onset of design) so the performance nature was not the best it could have been. Going forward with the knowing that M will also make a car will force them to design it with more sporting intentions.


  • txdesign

    @goat – switching the front swaybar on my 128 sport to the slightly larger dia. M3 unit was a nice upgrade, as was dumping the runflats.

  • JonPD

    Less power for less weight… Guess my idea about this is just most the weight in a current BMW is not as much of the engine as layers and layer of luxury that add considerable weight. Guess I could be wrong but I thought that even the S65 motor weighs 33lbs less than the N54 motor so there are other ways to get lighter motors without cutting cylinders.

  • goat

    Hi guys… I am familiar with the 2011 model ride/handling and it still wasn’t sufficiently sorted IMO. Yes, suspension could be improved with mods (e.g., stickier tires, sway bar, M3 control arms), but that only reinforces my own biggest criticism of the e82- the stock car on stock suspension (ZSP) did not deliver on its handling promise and did not corner as well as it should have given its small footprint and coupe performance image. Having to swap out suspension on a sports coupe – especially one with a 300hp+ motor – just to get it to handle reasonably fluidly is not what one associates with european sports coupes.

    I am talking more about the 135i here than the 128i (and definitely not the 1M, which has a completely different chassis hardware and tuning!). I think Michael is right about BMW not designing the original 1-series chassis to handle as much power as it ended up getting with the N54/N55 e82 variants (again, M exempted). The chassis’ shortcomings are much more magnified in driving the 135i where the extra power really ups the speeds – on the flip side, the 128i is generally better handling on its ZSP partly because there is less weight over the front axle and partly because you don’t have as much torque to place demands on the chassis.

    Either way, with the news in this BF article, it seems to me that BMW has committed more seriously to this platform so the next-gen coupe should be more sorted and better matched to its engine power. Maybe we will even see an LSD in N55-equipped cars going forward (the 3 could definitely use this too)… To me this is good news as I really like the idea of a small BMW coupe and the e90 isn’t it and certainly the next-gen F30 coupe isn’t it either. 🙂

  • Gabe

    Maybe we will even see an LSD in N55-equipped cars going forward (the 3 could definitely use this too)…

    We won’t. It’s all ediff in non M cars from here on out. The next gen 1er will be better sorted in some ways but it will be a larger car as well.

  • JonPD

    A larger BMW Gabe, that’s hard to imagine 😉

  • jpd

    BMW executives should look at the pricing of the 1 series vs 3 series. Here a 135 coupe can easily top $46 K the same as a well equipped 328. Add another 4 K for a convertible and you reach a price point that few younger buyers can afford. I own a 2011 135 coupe that I configured to $42 K with a 6 speed and no premium package. A suspect a new 1 series will have 4 cyl turbos.

  • goat

    Gabe thanks for the clear statement on LSD… even if it dashed my hopes! 🙁 Well that’s that… at least there are aftermarket options (Quaife, Wavetrac).

    • Goat- the e-diff is actually quite good and less parasitic in daily driving than a true LSD. If you track a lot an LSD is of course what you want but for 99% of drivers it is added drag, weight and cost.

      I am sure a few people will chime in and say how impressed the e-diff is. It is 95% of what a real LSD is. In fact you can lay strips with it.

      There is no need for a factory LSD option; ask MINI how well that plan worked- less than 2% take rate if memory serves me right.

      M cars get a monster diff and the remainder get software.