Earlier this week, BMW Asia launched their latest 1 Series on Singapore’s shores. Now simply called “The 1” (as opposed to “The 1 Series”), the new 1 promises more space and more usability for those wanting to get into their first BMW. Interestingly, BMW has also launched this car in partnership with not Jet Li, but Lazada, more on that in a while. But first…
It is no secret that for the new 1, BMW have decided to ditch their traditional FR platform for a FF layout. Promising greater practicality and interior space. Great news for those new to the marque but a huge issue of contention for many longtime fans of the marque as well as first and second-generation 1 Series enthusiasts. Having had two 1-ers in the household, I think I’m included. Unfortunately, we are a vocal minority who did not buy quite enough new cars from BMW.
No doubt the people in charge of the 1 Series project have done their homework, and data through research have proven that the majority of current 1 owners care much more about daily usability and back seat space (yuck) and much less about making doughnuts of the black tyre-ed variety. Thankfully, we still have the new 2 Series Coupe for that.
With market research and buyer data pointing the way, BMW’s five-year design process for this new car have lead them to adopt a transversely mounted front engine and front-wheel drive layout. Allowing for a significant increase in interior space and at the same time radically changing the silhouette of the 1 from its predecessors. Gone is the long front bonnet and in its place is a more cabin forward aesthetic.
Previously almost sitting within a niche of its own in the compact class, BMW’s switch to a front-engine, front-drive layout means it now has to square up next to a crew of already established competitors. The Golf, the A3 and most recently, the new A-Class. To that end, it is no wonder why the designers have gone all out to create a rather aggressive exterior design to set their latest baby BMW apart from the crowd. The front end is very pronounced with that new giant corporate grill (don’t judge) with plenty of angled surfaces to create yet another angry looking car. Interestingly, the side vents that sit along the outer edges of the front lower bumper are actual air vents and not just for show, no doubt helping to channel airflow cleanly along the sides.
As of press time, those keen on the new 1 will have a choice of standard 17s or 18-inch light-alloy M wheels, with 19s coming in as an additional cost option. These? 18s.
As mentioned earlier, the 1’s new architecture means much more interior space as opposed to the first two generations. Access to the rear is now easier and there is an extra 33 millimetres of knee room available and an extra 13 millimetres of elbowroom. Similarly, the driver and front passenger can look forward to an extra 42 millimetres of elbow room as well. Having had a first-generation 1er where the rear seats were adequate at best, the extra space on this new car for the rear passengers is quite noticeable and is something I’m sure will be appreciated by potential buyers.
Upfront, the driver’s cockpit has also been updated to reflect BMW’s new interior design language and it does look quite a lot better than the previous car.
Boot space has also been given an increase by 20 litres to 380 litres, or 1,200 litres with the rear seat bench folded down. The minimum width of the luggage compartment has also increased by 67 millimetres and buyers can now option an electrically operated tailgate should they require one.
With the car still undergoing homologation for our local market, we have yet to drive it. But going by BMW’s vast experience in creating fun driving front-wheel-drive cars with the Mini brand, chances of this car being dull to drive is quite unlikely. It might not have the same charm as its rear-wheel driven 6-pot screaming brethren, but we have no doubt BMW knows how to make a car drive well.
Now for the Lazada partnership. No, you can’t order an entire car online, well, not yet. With BMW’s latest collab, you can now make an online reservation for the new 1 via the Lazada shopping platform, Lazmall, without having to make a trip to the showroom. As an added incentive, from Monday, 9 September 2019 at 8 am (SGT), the first 11 units of the BMW 118i M Sport will be available for booking (with a S$500 booking fee) on the BMW LazMall store at the special interest rate of 1.18%. After placing the booking fee, customers will be invited to the PML showroom at 303 Alexandra Road to view the car and finalise the purchase.