BMW has added a sporty three-door model as well as a host of detailed changes to its 1-series line-up in a bid to continue the strong sales momentum built up since its introduction in 2004. The facelifted model, due in showrooms in March, is differentiated by a series of styling changes, further refining the 1-series’ edgy appearance while serving to tone down some of the more controversial aspects of Chris Bangle’s "flame surfacing".
The 1-series gets a fresh front bumper with a full-width air duct helping to emphasis the car’s width, a more prominent grille with added chrome highlights as well as revised headlamps with clear lenses and revised projector beams. The alterations to the rear are even more subtle, with only a lightly re-profiled bumper and new tail lamp graphics to set it apart from today’s two-and-a-half-year-old model.
Visually, there’s not much separating the new three-door 1-series from its five-door sibling; the two sharing the same profile, with only the length of the front doors and position of the B-pillar appearing to differ. It's the same story in dimensions, too; both share the same 4239mm length, 1934mm width and 1421mm height. They also ride on the same 2660mm wheelbase.
Super-efficient new engines
While the styling changes are subtle, there’s plenty of action underneath the bonnet of the facelifted 1-series, with the introduction of a heavily revised 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine running BMW’s High Precision Injection (HPI) direct-injection system – as recently announced for the facelifted 5-series’ six-cylinder powerplants. Operating at a nominal 200bar of pressure and equipped with the latest piezo injector technology, it brings about a moderate boost in output while improving fuel efficiency to a level close to that of rival diesel engines.
In the 118i, the four-valve-per-cylinder unit produces 143bhp and 140lb ft of torque – up by 14bhp and 7lb ft respectively. The increase shaves an impressive 0.6sec off the 118's 0-62mph time at 8.8sec. Top speed is up by 1mph to 130mph. More impressive, however, is its combined cycle average fuel consumption of 47.9mpg – an improvement of over 10mpg.
In the 120i, meanwhile, the advanced new engine provides an added 20bhp and 7lb ft at 170bhp and 155lb ft. That’s sufficient for 0-62mph in 7.8sec, a 139mph top speed and 44.1mpg.
It’s not only the petrol engines that have come in for improvement. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder common rail turbodiesel has also received a series of detailed upgrades. In the 118d, the four-valve-per-cylinder unit punches out an added 21bhp and 15lb ft at 143bhp and 221lb ft.
That’s enough to lower the 0-62mph time by 1.0sec to 9.0sec and increase top speed by 6mph to 130mph. Its biggest draw, however, is the claimed combined cycle average of 60.1mph – making it the most fuel-efficient BMW road car on sale.