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BMW 130i: true to its origins

BMW 130i - front side view

The 130i joins BMW's the new generation 1 Series.

5th September 2005.

Just a year after BMW launched its new generation 1 Series premium compact car with 4-cylinder engines, and few months after showing the 130i at the Geneva motor show last spring, here comes now the most typical BMW of this model series with its straight-six, 265 bhp petrol engine, with prices starting from 32500 euros (home market).

For the Munich-based brand remains mostly famous, amongst other qualities, for the straight-six cylinder engine layout, with rear-wheel drive, especially in the compact to midsize cars segments.

BMW 130i - side view

New competitor in the top versions of the C segment .

Of course, there is BMW's respected range of four-cylinder engines, the main volume players of the 3- and 1-Series segments (as well as the Mini brand), and at the other end of the spectrum, the reputed V8 engines in the higher 5-, 6- and 7-Series, the over-500-bhp V10 of the M5 and M6 duo, ending up at the ultra luxurious heights with the silky V12 engine (in the BMW 7 Series as well as the Rolls Royce Phantom).

But even if BMW rationalised its models expansion:

1 - during the seventies and the eighties under  the 3-, 5-, 6- and 7 Series names, topping it all with the Rolls Royce brand since 2003,

2 - while extending its downward reach in the volume arena, since last decade (first through the failed 1994-2000 Rover adventure, which was meant to fulfill this volume expansion mission), with the BMW 3 Series Compact (1993) which the new compact 1 Series comes to replace, and the Mini brand (2001),

3 - adding the X5 (1999), X3 (2003) SUV crossovers and the coming SAV,

...the fact remains that the memory still associate the BMW sporty DNA, quite strongly, with the sixties 1500 series, up to the first 3-Series generation in 1975.

BMW 130i - back view

Rear-wheel-drive dynamics with 3.0-liters power.

With its front, longitudinal inline-six-cylinder engine coupled to a rear-wheel drive system, the compact (C segment, lower medium) 130i, with its long hood (to accommodate the longitudinal six cylinders in a 4.2 meter long body) and wide track under elegantly muscular fenders, the 130i cannot be more BMW than it is, at least from that four-decades-old DNA perspective.

First shown at the Geneva motor show last spring, the new 130i gets into the showrooms now with a price tag starting from 32500 euros (home market), with a six-speed manual gearbox.

Displacing three litres with Valvetronic valve management and lightweight engineering, the power unit of the 130i is the first production engine in the world with an extremely light composite magnesium/aluminium crankcase.

With compact exterior dimensions, short body overhang at the front, low weight, wide track and – at 2.66 meters or 104.7 inches – one of the longest wheelbases in its class, the 1 Series offers the very best ingredients for agility, especially with a weight distribution of almost 50:50 front-to-rear, with directional stability in fast bends.

Click here to open the BMW 130i dimensions graph

Click here to open the BMW 130i specifications tables

Click here to open the BMW 130i engine output and torque graph

Click to open the pages.

Suspension - The newly developed five-arm rear axle supports the sporting overall setup of the car, raising at the same time roll comfort to a new level. With its stiff structures, straight, rod-shaped arms and short levers, the lightweight steel structure helps precise wheel guidance.

The front axle, with its double-joint spring strut tie bar axle and its anti-roll bar, is made largely of aluminium, combining low weight with strength and stiffness, especially with the transmission of power to the rear wheels, enhancing precision also at high speeds.

Another strength comes from the spontaneous response to even the smallest movements of the steering wheel and gas pedal... all without the drive forces acting on the steering, which inevitably occurs on front-wheel-drive cars (known as torque steering).

Active Steering – Like the 3-, 5- and 6 Series, the 130i can get the Active Steering option, with its automatic adjustment of the steering  transmission ratio and assistance, according to the car speed. At low speeds, the driver finds it easier to change direction, turning the steering wheel slightly, especially when parking. At high speeds, the steering transmission maintains optimum precision with a less direct reaction.

Power Unit –  Developing 195 kW (265 bhp) from a displacement of 2,996 cc, the straight-six power unit extracts no less than 88.45 bhp per 1000 cc, which is a very handsome figure for a normally-aspirated engine, especially that it does not come at the expense of torque at all. For the peak torque (315 Nm) is achieved from 2500 to 4000 rpm, with a specific torque figure of 105.14 Nm/ litre.

Weighing just 161 kilos or 355 lb, BMW’s new straight-six has a magnesium/aluminium composite crankcase. Another 27 per cent lighter than aluminium, the magnesium used in the crankcase reduces weight most significantly in comparison with conventional grey cast iron components.

The engine comes with BMW's fully variable Valvetronic valve drive, with infinite camshaft adjustment (VANOS) on both the intake and outlet valves. Valvetronic, as opposed to a conventional throttle butterfly power unit, improves response while reducing fuel consumption. The exhaust system with two chrome-plated tailpipes adds the right sound effect for each movement of the gas pedal.

This power unit is used, with different settings, in the 630i Coupé, the BMW 530i, as well  as the new 330i.

BMW 130i - engine cover view

BMW's signature: straight-six with rear-wheel-drive.

The new 130i features a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, accelerating from 0–100 km/h in 6.1 seconds, while top speed is limited electronically to 250 km/h or 155 mph. With this performance, the BMW 130i average fuel consumption is 9.2 litres/100 km or 30.7 mpg Imp (25.58 US mpg).

Passive safety - Body structure is made with extensive use of high-strength steel. Standard passive safety equipment includes three-point inertia-reel belts on all seats, frontal airbags activated in two stages, side airbags at the front as well as curtain airbags inflating around the side windows to protect both the front and rear passengers heads from injury.

The airbag system as well as the belt latch tensioners and belt force limiters are activated by means of advanced control technology. Depending on the type and intensity of a collision, only the required components are activated to ensure optimum occupant safety.

For small passengers, the BMW 1 Series offers the option to fit up to three child seats in position by means of ISOFIX fasteners. The front passenger’s airbag may be deactivated for this purpose by means of a special key switch.

The BMW 1 Series has already won the five stars maximal score in the Euro-NCAP crash test.

Active Safety - The 130i is the only model in the 1 Series to be fitted exclusively with the latest generation of DSC Dynamic Stability Control, with its wider range of brake functions serving to minimise the car’s stopping distance while maintaining directional stability.

BMW 130i - wheel and brake disc view

Behind the discs, "dry braking effects" and more.

In wet weather, the brake pads are applied lightly to the brake linings at regular intervals , to provide a “dry braking effect”, preventing the usual delay in the response of the brakes in rainy conditions. A further feature is automatic pre-loading of the brake discs whenever the driver suddenly takes his foot off the gas pedal, which serves to significantly shorten response times.

Already known in all of BMW’s DSC systems, the DBC Dynamic Brake Control prevents the 130i from oversteering in a bend when applying the brakes lightly, while EBFD Electronic Brake Force Distribution shares out brake forces according to current requirements. All of these functions are part of the DSC and ABS systems.

ASC Automatic Stability Control helps traction when setting off on a slippery or rough surface, the newest DSC prevents the car from rolling back when setting off on a gradient. It also comes with a special mode – DTC Dynamic Traction Control – providing a higher level of wheel slip.

BMW 130i - front detail view (headlight)

Optional adaptive headlights follow the steering wheel.

Adaptive Headlight Control - Becoming available as an option for all other models in the 1 Series, Adaptive Headlight Control moves the headlights in the right direction, following the steering wheel, immediately when the car enters a bend, illuminating the road ahead in the right angle.

Brake System - The BMW 130i comes with large brake discs both front and rear, with a control unit monitoring and calculating the remaining service life of the brake pads. The driver can check out this information at any time on the colour monitor at the central top position of the instrument panel or retrieve the data via the on-board computer between the speedometer and rev counter, just as he/she is able to call up the remaining lifetime of other parts subject to wear and tear.

Like the four-cylinder versions in the BMW 1 Series, the 130i is equipped with two-stage Brake Force Display. Under normal conditions, the brake lights in the BMW 130i come on the usual way. When applying them all-out or when activating the anti-lock brake system, the brake lights will automatically come on over a larger area. With their particularly brilliant effect under such conditions, the brake lights inform drivers following from behind that there is a dangerous situation ahead. The stronger light signal will then induce the driver of a vehicle following from behind to press down the brake pedal harder himself.

BMW 130i - dashboard view

iDrive to control functions with Display menu.

Interior - The new luxury C-segment player (the 1 Series model competes, depending on versions, against the Audi A3 and the high versions of the VW Golf, Renault Mégane, Citroen C4 and others) offers a rear seat bench tilting forwards to offer a variable luggage compartment (330 to 1,150 litres, or 11.55–40.25 cu ft). The tailgate unlocks either by remote control or by pressing the tailgate handle with its integrated BMW logo.

By pressing, turning and moving the iDrive controller (automatically included with the navigation system options) in the centre console, the driver is able to initialise and control all secondary and comfort functions as well as the setup and operating modes of the car. The menu is presented on the Control Display in the upper area of the centre console. A further option allows the driver to control several functions of his car via voice entry (see options below).

BMW 130i - open tailgate view

BMW 130i - tilted rear seat bench view 1 of 2

BMW 130i - tilted rear seat bench view 2 of 2

Variable luggage compartment (330 to 1,150 litres).

Intelligent Battery Sensor - To detect any lack or impairment of capacity and guarantee consistent reliability, the Intelligent Battery Sensor (IBS) provides a permanent supervision of the battery. As soon as the charge sensor recognises a lack or impairment of capacity, the Intelligent Battery Sensor (IBS) allows, either to automatically increase idle speed and charge the battery more quickly, or (if the first strategy is not sufficient) to limit the uptake of power by consumers not required at the moment. While this reduces the level of motoring comfort for a short while, it guarantees that the engine will still have enough starter energy the next time around.

Standard Equipment - The standard equipment of the 130i (equipment, prices and options vary depending on markets) includes the engine starter button with comfort start function, leather sports steering wheel, extra-short gearshift lever with leather knob, circular dials with extended range of display, battery-free ignition key with remote control function, battery charge sensor, on-board computer, indication of residual mileage for parts subject to wear and tear, double exhaust system with chrome-plated tailpipes and a sporting, throaty sound, chrome-plated door entry trim, seat height adjustment for the driver and front passenger, air conditioning, separate temperature control on the driver’s and front passenger’s side, radio with CD player.

Available options include a four-way lumbar support, pneumatic adjustment of backrest width on the sports seats, outside illumination around the doors, navigation systems, a Blue­tooth interface for mobile phones and the BMW Assist telematics service including access to the internet, Park Distance Control (PDC, with sensors at the front and rear of the car to detect obstacles, with an audible warning as the car comes closer to the obstacle). When fitted with the iDrive option, the PDC presents  the position of the car relative to the obstacle, on the Control Display.

BMW 130i - M Sport package - front view

BMW 130i - M Sport package - dashboard

BMW 130i - M Sport package - back view

BMW 130i with M Sports Package.

* Another interesting option is the Comfort Access (known as well as keyless access, it enables the driver to get in the car, start the engine and set off without taking the key out of his pocket), with up to three different settings according to personal keys, automatically calling up important functions as soon as the “appropriate” driver wishes to set off in the car. The key automatically saves the last setting in the audio system (sound, volume, stations chosen), the air conditioning (temperature and air distribution) as well as the seats with electrical adjustment (option) and the position of the mirrors.

* The Voice Entry option enables the driver to activate numerous radio, CD, navigation and, in particular, telephone (option) functions also by means of voice commands. The vocabulary required comprises approximately 400 words, typical voice entry commands being “Redial”, “Dial number 07993120”, “Switch on destination guidance” or, “Play CD number1”. A further advantage is that the user may directly call radio stations and entries in the telephone directory by name.

The voice entry system is upgradeable with the addition of new functions in future simply by updating the software.

* M Sports Package option includes 17-inch tyres, dual exhaust pipes with chrome-plated rear ends, titanium-coloured headlight trim strips, fog lamps, BMW's Satin Chrome look and – like all six-cylinders BMWs– chrome-plated slats in the kidney-style radiator grille.

The M Sports Package is also available for the other models in the BMW 1 Series, with M double-spoke light-alloy wheels (17 or 18 inches), different-sized tyres front and rear, sports suspension, a front and rear air dam as well as side sills finished in body colour, sports seats, BMW Individual roof liner in Anthracite, a leather steering wheel, the footrest and entry trim strips in BMW M design, as well as special aluminium trim strips, soft nappa leather on the handbrake lever and on the extra-short gearshift leaver.

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