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New BMW 1 Series: hybrid tech but no diesel for facelifted baby Beemer

BMW 1 Series gets a thorough facelift, touching everything from exterior styling to engine upgrades

  • New exterior styling
  • Overhauled interior
  • No more diesel engine

After five years on sale, the BMW 1 Series has been given its first mid-cycle facelift, breathing a new lease of life into the premium hatchback. There are fresh styling changes to bring the 1 Series in line with its Bavarian stablemates, as well as up-to-date interior tech and a revised engine lineup. Prices have marginally increased over the outgoing model, although the entry-level variant still sneaks under the £30,000 barrier before options. 

What do I need to know about the new BMW 1 Series?

Despite BMW referring to the new 1 Series as the fourth-generation model, it's still based on the third-generation car from 2019, although the changes are far-reaching. The bodywork has grown a marginal 42mm in length, meaning it’s still shorter than the Mercedes A-Class and longer than the Audi A3.

Starting with the new exterior styling, the 1 Series has an entirely redesigned front end centred around a new front grille. It’s slimmer than before, and features a mix of vertical and diagonal slats, while sportier models get horizontal bars instead. The LED headlights are new, too, featuring upright daytime-running light elements, while buyers can upgrade to Matrix LED items for the first time.

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The rear has seen some changes, notably the new tail-lights and the large, black diffuser-style element below the bumper. You’ll spot a new ‘1’ emblem embossed into the rearmost pillar, as well. Performance-focused M135 models get more aggressive bumpers, side skirts and air intakes, although in usual BMW fashion, these styling tweaks can be applied to lesser models if you select the right trim level.

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Slip into the driver’s seat and the changes don’t stop there. There’s an entirely new dashboard and centre console design, with BMW’s large curved display dominating proceedings. It pairs a 10.25-inch driver’s display with a 10.7-inch infotainment display, the latter of which is now used for the climate controls in place of physical buttons. The seats and steering wheel are new and are trimmed in upholstery made from recycled plastic – the interior is completely leather-free.

What engines are available for the new BMW 1 Series?

As we’ve seen with the facelifted 3 Series, BMW is slowly axing its non-SUV diesel models, and the 1 Series is the latest victim – the 116d and 120d have not been renewed for this update. Instead, it’s petrol only from now on, albeit with some new mild hybrid assistance.

The entry point is the BMW 120 – note that BMW has dropped the ‘i’ suffix normally used to identify its petrol models in a move to simplify its naming strategy. This model uses a 168bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine with a small 48-volt electric motor to help boost efficiency. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is now fitted as standard in place of the old six-speed manual.

For now, the only other 1 Series in the lineup is the M135. This packs far more performance, with its 296bhp four-cylinder engine enabling a 0-62mph sprint in just 4.9 seconds. Interestingly, that’s around 6bhp less and 0.1 seconds slower than the outgoing car, although BMW promises improved agility and cornering dynamics thanks to a stiffened body structure and recalibrated suspension. It uses the same automatic gearbox as the 120, but power can be sent to all four wheels, rather than just the front two.

How much does the new BMW 1 Series cost and when can I buy one?

UK prices start from £29,950 for the BMW 120 Sport, around £1,000 more than the outgoing entry-level car. The 120 M Sport gets more kit and sportier styling, but ups the price to £31,950. M135 models begin at £41,000. Of course, expect those prices to quickly inflate once you’ve selected a few optional extras. First deliveries are scheduled for October 2024.

Read our full review of the outgoing BMW M135i to see what we think of BMW’s hot hatchback…

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