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by Brett Davis

BMW Australia is targeting Volkswagen Golf buyers with the new 2012 BMW 1 Series, with prices kicking off at $36,900 for the new entry-level BMW 116i – five per cent less than the current entry-level BMW 118i.

The 2012 BMW 1 Series was unveiled in June, but it isn’t set to make an official public debut until the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany next month. The new 1 Series will be available with three different four-cylinder engines initially, in three different trim levels.

The entry-level model is the new BMW 116i. It will feature a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine producing 100kW of power and 220Nm of torque – same power as the current 118i, although with 40Nm more torque. Acceleration from 0-100km/h will be achievable in 8.5 seconds – just under a second quicker than the outgoing entry-level 118i (9.4 seconds).

Next up will be the new BMW 118i. This will come with a similar 1.6-litre TwinPower turbo four-cylinder engine, producing 125kW of power and 250Nm of torque. Acceleration from 0-100km/h will be possible in 7.4 seconds.

Finally, a BMW 118d will top out the four-cylinder 1 Series range. The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder produces 105kW and 320Nm. Acceleration from 0-100km/h will be possible in 8.9 seconds.

One of the major changes to the new 2012 BMW 1 Series will be an increase in dimensions. It features a wheelbase that is 30mm longer and an overall length increase of 85mm, helping to provide 21mm more legroom and 30 litres more boot space. A new eight-speed automatic transmission will also be an option.

With the new entry-level price at $36,900, it will put it in arm’s reach from the Volkswagen Golf – which ranges from around $23,000 to $52,000 – and help it become a much more competitive with the Audi A3, which starts at $39,990.

The 2012 BMW 1 Series will go on sale in Australia in October.