Shock change coming to BMW
THE new BMW 1 Series represents a massive change for the German maker that flies in the face of its driver first mantra.
BMWs have conventionally featured a rear-wheel drive layout. But the newest edition of the 1 Series is about to change all that.
The German brand has switched its small hatch to front-wheel drive, using the same platform as the slow selling 2-Series Active Tourer and its sister brand Mini.
Moving to a front-wheel drive layout reduces the driver focus that has been at the heart of BMWs for decades.
But the change comes with a number of benefits. The new layout means the 1 Series hatch will have far more room inside than previous versions - especially for back seat passengers.
Top of the range versions - including the performance focused M135i - will get the benefit of all-wheel drive grip.
However, the fan-favourite inline six-cylinder engine in the previous M top-spec version has made way for a high-powered turbocharged four-pot making 225k/450Nm, down 25kW/50Nm.
BMW claims the M135i can hit 100km/h in 4.8 seconds, up from 4.4 seconds in the outgoing model. The company has no plans to build an extreme hot hatch to counter the likes of the Mercedes-AMG A45 and RS3 Sportback, with the M2 coupe filling that role.
BMW is launching the hatch with a variety of petrol and diesel engines.
On the tech side BMW is bringing the new digital key and digital assistant.
The digital key enables users to unlock, lock and start their vehicle with a smartphone. The tech uses Near Field Communication (NFC) and for now is only compatible with Android smartphones.
In Australia the digital key is already available on some version of the new 3 Series sedan, Z4 roadster and 8 Series coupe. And for $129 per year, customers who buy a new BMW fitted with the brand's "comfort access" option can send a digital key to smartphones owned by friends or family members.
A digital assistant is becoming more common in luxury cars and allows users to control the infotainment, climate and navigation functions on the vehicle via a simple voice prompt "Hey BMW".
The new 1 Series will land in local showrooms at the end of the year.