The BMW 1 Series might be an all-new model in the company's line-up, but the heritage of the marque shines through. Unmistakable BMW features such as the double headlights, kidney grille and Hofmeister kink are all present. Sitting on a wheelbase of 2,660mm and with short overhangs, 737mm front and 830mm rear, the 1 Series has an air of the BMW Z4 and historic M Roadster about it. The striking lines cut a swathe through the air too with the aerodynamic body of the 1 Series helping to post a class-leading drag co-efficient of 0.29 (116i).
Visually its dimensions and styling are almost coupé-like, but internally the car is capacious with the height from the seat base to the roof lining measuring 963mm in the front and 967mm in the rear, providing ample headroom for tall passengers. Furthermore, the 1 Series offers occupants class-leading shoulder and elbow room for greater comfort. Another clear benefit of the front-engine, rear-drive layout is that the driver will also appreciate accelerator, brake and clutch pedals that are centrally located and not offset compared to its front-wheel drive competitors.
Sharing technology with the larger models, the 1 Series can be specified with iDrive, including Professional or Business navigation systems, Traffic Messaging Channel (TMC), front and rear Park Distance Control with pictogram, Bluetooth telephone connectivity and Xenon headlamps.
A distinct reference to the car's sporting aspirations sits on the dashboard, with its standard Z8-style starter button. Pressing the button after inserting the new-style key fires up the technologically advanced four-cylinder engines. The newly-designed key retains the advanced Key Memory feature common to all BMWs. Courtesy of a microchip located inside the key, the 1 Series recognises which of the two keys supplied with the car is being used and alters door mirrors, air conditioning, radio and electric seat settings accordingly.
Further personalisation is possible, with the owner able to specify the interior in either fabric upholstery or optional leather. Optional sports seats, derived from those in the M3, provide the 1 Series driver with the ability to adjust the side bolsters for the optimum lateral support. Again, further recognition of the 1 Series as a driver's car. In the rear, boot capacity is 330-litres with the seats raised and with the rear seats spilt 60:40, the virtually flat load floor offers 1,150 litres of storage space.