The BMW 1 Series has been given a 2 Series-inspired facelift and gained a pair of three-cylinder turbocharged engines from the Mini Cooper in a major mid-life update for the premium small car.
Gone are the droopy headlights of its predecessor, replaced by flatter, sharper fixtures reminiscent of the 2 Series coupe and convertible. They now come standard with LED daytime running lights, and can be specified in full-LED specification.
The 1 Series' kidney grilles are also flatter, wider and squarer than before, while reshaped bumpers with larger intakes give the 1 Series a cleaner face and add newfound width to the design.
The tail-lights embrace BMW’s signature L shape, with LEDs now spanning both the quarter panels and the tailgate.
BMW has also tweaked the media and climate controls on the centre stack for a more premium look and feel.
The 2015 BMW 1 Series gets a welcome boost in standard equipment, with base variants around the world gaining climate control, rain-sensing wipers, 6.5-inch freestanding display, iDrive operating system, Radio Professional and an embedded SIM card, allowing the use of features such as Intelligent Emergency Call.
Ten engine variants – five petrol and five diesel – will be available globally, including three-cylinder units for the first time. The BMW 1 Series range is now up to 12 per cent more fuel efficient, while power now peaks at 240kW in the M135i hot-hatch (up 5kW).
The 116i kicks off the petrol range, producing 80kW and 180Nm from its 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine, with fuel use rated at as little at 5.0 litres per 100 kilometres.
Then comes a pair of 1.6-litre four-cylinders: the 118i with 100kW and 220Nm, and the 120i with 130kW and 250Nm.
The 2.0-litre 125i tops the four-cylinder petrols, producing 160kW and 310Nm, while the M135i now pumps out 240kW and 450Nm from its 3.0-litre inline-six turbo and sprints from 0-100km/h in as little as 4.9 seconds.
The 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo diesel 116d is the efficiency king, claiming combined cycle consumption as low as 3.4L/100km in EfficientDynamics specification.
A trio of 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesels follows: the 110kW/320Nm 118d, the 140kW/400Nm 120d, and the 165kW/450Nm 125d flagship.
BMW Australia is expected to continue to offer only the 118d, power of which rises 5kW from the old model.
The revised engine range is likely to bring a slight change to the Australian line-up, with BMW Australia expected to drop the 116i variant and pick up the 120i, given the old 116i has effectively been realigned as the 118i, while the old 118i has effectively become the 120i, inheriting its engine and adding 5kW.
If that is the case – BMW Australia says it is still finalising its range, which is due to arrive on our shores around July – the 2015 BMW 1 Series line-up will comprise the 118i, 118d, 120i, 125i and M135i.
BMW Australia is also understood to be keen to bring three-cylinder power to its 1 Series range. It's unclear at this stage if the petrol or diesel is favoured locally, or if both are on the table for our market. Neither will form part of the initial launch range, but at least one appears likely to join the local line-up shortly after the introduction of the updated model - potentially creating a new entry point to the BMW brand.
As before, six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic transmissions are available – the latter a new version of the ZF unit with revised software and hardware. Rear-wheel drive is the default layout, while xDrive all-wheel-drive variants are offered overseas, but not in Australia.
Technology flowing down from more expensive models means the 2015 BMW 1 Series can perform rear-to-kerb parks automatically as well as reverse parallel parks.
It also gains BMW’s Active Cruise Control system with Stop & Go function, which adds automatic distance control and allows drivers to resume cruising after being stopped in traffic at the press of a button.
Full Australian specifications and prices will be revealed closer to the local launch of the BMW 1 Series. Expect it to remain competitively positioned against the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class as is the current car, which is priced from $36,900 to $64,930 before on-road costs.