From drag races to roominess comparison, the Mazda3 came out ahead of the Audi A3 and BMW 1-Series in a diesel-hatchback comparison.
The entry-level premium sedan segment is pretty hot right now, with the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class doing well for their respective automakers here in the US. Of course, BMW has its 2 Series, but that’s currently only available as a coupe, with a convertible bodystyle forthcoming. That all looks to change, however, as our spies recently caught BMW testing a four-door 1 Series sedan that seems to have the A3 and CLA clear in its sight.
BMW’s entry-level four-door is expected to ride on the same front-wheel-drive UKL platform that we recently spied in Mini Countryman form. We’re pretty sure this thing will launch under the 1 Series line (odds for sedans and wagons, evens for coupes and convertibles), but it’s anyone’s guess with BMW – after all, the five-door, front-drive Active Tourer wears a 2 Series nameplate.
Look for the 1 Series sedan to launch sometime in 2016 as a 2017 model. Better late than never in the entry-lux segment, we suppose.
As BMW prepares to launch its new 2 Series lineup, it appears that the current 1 Series is going to get a little attention for itself. Based on these spy photos, the 1 Series hatchback (F20/F21), which is not offered in the US, will be getting a minor facelift in the near future.
From what we can see in these images, the updated 1 Series will definitely be getting a tweaked front end, with most of the attention focusing on the air intakes and grille. Our shooter tells us that it is possible that the headlights may yet be reworked in some way by the time we see this car in production form. It still isn’t clear if we’ll ever see this bodystyle or the next-gen 1 Series in the US, but our most recent report seems to indicate that the car’s fortunes will depend somewhat on how well the Mercedes CLA-Class and Audi A3 sell.
Mini sold 301,526 cars in 2012; BMW sold 1.54 million of its own models. According to a piece in Autocar, analysts say the coming UKL1 platform that will form the skeleton of the third-generation Mini Cooper and coming front-wheel drive BMW 1 Series could be responsible for “more than 900,000 cars per year” all by itself.
That sale fire is fueled by the UKL1 wearing up to twenty-three bodies in total between the two brands, 11 for Mini and 12 for BMW, rendering hatchbacks, sedans, coupes, convertibles, wagons, crossovers and people-haulers from about 12.5 feet to 14.5 feet. In April the VP of Mini USA said we might find some current models don’t make it to a next generation, but a graphic accompanying the Autocar story has them all there. If it’s correct, then those 23 models will only base model lines and don’t account for different engines and four-wheel-drive options for each model.
The big changes that would perhaps mean big sales for the Mini line are a five-door hatch with two smaller rear doors for children, the sedan talked about last year for Asian markets and an MPV perhaps wearing the “Traveler” name that could send the Countryman in a more SUV-like direction.
While in Germany at the first early pre-production drives of the hotly anticipated BMW i3, BMW people finally hinted at a price ballpark. Numbers being tossed around by pundits have actually been pretty close to what BMW is discussing internally – between $35,000 and just over $40,000. We have been assured now that the base price, should one choose to buy and not lease in the Euro zone, is just over 35,000 euro, with some big taxes included in that price. In the US, the starting price for the fully EV plug-in version should be $34,500 or right thereabouts. In addition to new pricing, we’ve also gotten our best-yet look at the i3, with the freshly uncovered spy shots you see here.
European deliveries begin in November of this year for the fully electric version of the rear-wheel-drive i3 with 168-horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The e-motor mounted over the rear axle is supplied with energy by the 22-kWh lithium-ion battery pallet under the passenger compartment. Recharging happens in any of three ways: public or personal garage plug-in charge station (garage version not included in the price), the onboard system’s Pro Eco mode that adds resistance to the drivetrain in a type of rolling brake energy recuperation, or through the normal brake energy and off-throttle coasting regeneration more common to EVs. Range on a full charge of this drivetrain is said to be upwards of 100 miles under hyper-miling conditions.
Perhaps the best bit of news is that the alternative, range-extending, two-cylinder 600cc engine supplied by BMW Motorrad for the hybrid version of the i3 – mounted in the rear together with the e-motor – will add only 2,000 euros in Europe and about $2,000 in the US. This is a range-doubling solution that could have brought a much higher price gouge, so thank you, BMW. The hybrid e-drive i3 version arrives a couple months after the full-EV launch version. Remember that, unlike the very similar system for the Chevrolet Volt, the system in the i3 supplies no mechanical torque to the driven axle and is only used as a generator (a system BMW first used last year in the 1 Series-based Active ). The US is seen as the clear number one market for the i3.
BMW’s Best 1 Series Gives Back What You Put In
Every once in a while, I find myself, despite my solitary leanings and inherent modesty, working out in some kind of class setting. The tone and tenor of these classes ranges wildly – from the quiet, follow-the-leader variety, to those with a kind of Cult of Personality man or woman calling the shots, usually with idiom-laden shouting and theatrical hair. Despite their personal variation and range of professional effectiveness, there’s one common concept that most instructors bring up at some point: working with intention.
The idea, as it relates to physical fitness, is that focusing your brain on the movement at hand - the rate of your own breathing, or the muscle groups being worked for instance – helps to perform the act efficiently and correctly. Having spent a happy majority of the last decade in an exercise-free near-debauch, I was a bit surprised to find out that this kind of mental game really works pretty well.
All of this is relevant to my current task at hand, telling all of you what it’s like to drive the 2013 BMW 135is Coupe, because this is very clearly a car that rewards being driven with intention. Here, of course, I don’t mean simply keeping both hands on the wheels, eyes on the road, and such, but actively judging your own inputs and the car’s reactions to them. Good drivers (at least) are attentive most of the time, but it’s rare that we have the patience for applying such purpose to this everyday act, unless, as is the case with the 135is, the car rewards us for it so fully.
As BMW prepares to introduce its first-ever front-wheel drive car, the upcoming 1 Series GT, it looks like there will be at least two versions of the car. A conventional-looking hatchback was spotted testing late last year, but now we see an extended-length version in order to accommodate a third row of seats.
Judging by these spy shots, this 1 Series GT prototype has received an extended wheelbase, larger rear doors and more upright D-pillars compared to our previous spy shots (show in the gallery below) all with the aim of creating additional passenger and cargo space. Like the smaller 1 Series GT, this longer model would likely carry over the same powertrain options, which are expected to consist of three- and four-cylinder engines, a hybrid system and the choice of front- or all-wheel drive. The 1 Series GT could make its debut this fall at the Frankfurt Motor Show, but we might have to wait until next year to see the people mover.