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BMW 1 Series Convertible
The sunny side of a Bavarian offensive

BMW 1 Series Convertible: back view, open top.

The new Convertible is the fourth derivative of BMW's 1 Series.

Bechara Aboul-Nasr,
06 October 2007.

Normally, the current strength of the Euro should be a problem for European-based products and services, as much as it can be a blessing for those who export to the old continent.

But who can underestimate creativity, the high value which can always find its way to customers, as long as competition arrives just... late enough.

High technical value, avant-garde thinking and a strong brand image. That's where price-based competition can only follow from a certain distance. Imitation brands can even fuel the dream of their current customers to graduate one day to the genuine brand owners club.

BMW 1 Series Convertible: front side view, open top.

New premium convertible in the compact (C) segment.

Otherwise, what can explain the growth of a company like BMW? Based in the heart of the Euro zone, and yet, while its currency crossed the US$1.40 barrier, the Bavarian group was announcing four new models to be launched next year: a premium 1 Series compact SUV (BMW X1), a 7-Series based 4-door Gran Turismo model (the concept is referred to as Progressive Activity Sedan), another premium SUV for the Mini brand (sub-compact Sport Activity Vehicle), and the Rolls Royce Coupé (to be priced between the Phantom and Phantom Drophead Coupé). The "Flying Lady" has another model in the pipeline, to fit later under the Phantom in terms of size and price. That would boost the volume of Rolls Royce to better face the advance of brands like Bentley with its Continental Flying Spur sedan, Porsche with its 2009, 4-door Panamera, in addition to the Aston Martin Rapide luxury sedan project.

The strength of the Euro does not seem to worry BMW's plans to grow from last year's 1.4 million units, to 1.8 million units in 2012, on the way to over 2 million units by 2020... in addition to an expected 50 percent growth in the motorcycles business to reach an annual 150,000 units by 2012.

BMW Group cars are not all produced in the Euro zone. Some are made outside also, including in the U.S. precisely, where the Spartanburg annual plant capacity in South Carolina will grow from the current 140,000 unit to 240,000 units by 2012.

But the main production basis is still European, including the UK for Mini (in British Pound land), where the Oxford plant capacity will grow to 260,000 units per annum, and Goodwood on the south coast of England for Rolls Royce.

BMW 1 Series Convertible: front view, open top.

BMW 1 Series Convertible: back view, open top.

BMW 1 Series Convertible: back view, closed top.

The fabric roof is available in different colours and materials.

BMW 1 Series Convertible - It is under these sunny prospects that the Bavarian brand is also showing now its younger addition, the BMW 1 Series Convertible, the world’s first premium convertible in the compact segment (C segment, lower medium).

That's just a few weeks before the European market launch of the new BMW 1 Series Coupé (in the U.S. from spring 2008. Prices will be announced later).

The new Convertible is the fourth derivative of BMW's 1 Series, besides the 3- and 5-door versions, plus the new 1 Series Coupé. It will be powered by four- and six-cylinder engines, from the 143hp 118i Convertible up to the 306hp 135i Convertible.

The electro-hydraulic fabric roof opens or closes in 22 seconds, at speeds of up to 40 km/h (25mph), and is available in classic black, beige or, as a world first, an anthracite silver fleck which is a fabric material interwoven with fine shiny metallic fibres.

Like the Coupé, the 135i Convertibles get the standard M Sport aerodynamic package, re-profiled sill panels, a rear diffuser integrated into the rear bumper and a redesigned, sporting front valance with large air intakes assisting engine breathing and brake cooling.  The 135i Convertible also gets 17-inch light alloy wheels and six-pot brake callipers on the brakes  (two-pot on the rear).

BMW 1 Series Convertible: dash and front cabin, driver door view.

The air conditioning recognises when the roof is opened.

Interior - The interior offers space for four occupants and 305 litres of boot space with the roof up (260 litres with the roof down). Like the recently launched 3 Series and 6 Series Convertible, the optional leather seats of the 1 Series Convertible provide the SunReflective leather technology that uses ‘cool pigments’ during production to reflect infrared rays of sunlight, reducing the surface temperature of the seats by up to 20 degrees Celsius when compared to conventional leather upholstery.

Alongside the standard ‘gentle’, ‘medium’ and ‘intensive’ settings, the air conditioning system recognises when the roof has been opened and defaults to a ‘convertible’ mode (like the BMW 3 Series Convertible).  Then, the ventilation control reacts less to the interior temperature and more to the outside temperature and sunlight factors to determine the intensity of the ventilation supplied.

The 1 Series Convertible comes with an additional protection in the event of a roll-over.  A sensor registers an imminent danger and, alongside the relevant airbag deployment, two roll-over bars extend from behind the rear seats in a fraction of a second to protect the safety cell.

BMW 1 Series Convertible: side view, open top.

BMW 1 Series Convertible: side view, closed top.

The roof opens or closes at speeds of up to 40 km/h (25mph).

Engines - At launch, the new BMW 1 Series Convertible will be offered with four petrol and one diesel engine, as follows:.

135i Convertible: Petrol, straight six cylinder engine with Twin Turbo and High-precision direct injection. Capacity is 2979cc with a maximum output of 306hp at 5800 min (specific output: 102.7hp/litre. Kw equivalence can be seen on the engine graph). Maximum torque is 400 Nm from 1300 to 5000 min. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h (0-62mph) is 5.6 seconds.  Top speed: 250 km/h (155mph, electronically limited).  Average consumption and CO2 emission figures to be announced later.

125i Convertible:
Petrol, straight-six 2996cc engine with magnesium aluminium alloy crankcase, double Vanos and Valvetronic, 218hp at 6100 min (specific output: 72.76hp/litre).  Maximum torque is 270 Nm at 2500min.  Acceleration from 0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 6.8 seconds.  Top speed: 238 km/h (148mph).  Average consumption: 8.09 litres/100 km (12.35 km/litre, 34.9 imperial mpg) with CO2 emissions at 195g/km.

120i Convertible: Petrol, in-line four cylinder 1995cc engine with High-precision direct injection. Output: 170hp at 6700min (specific output: 85.2hp/litre).  Torque: 210Nm at 4250min.  Acceleration from 0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 8.4 seconds.  Top speed: 220 km/h (137mph).  Average consumption: 6.6 litres/100 km (15.15 km/litre, 42.8 imperial mpg) and CO2 emissions: 158g/km.

BMW 1 Series Convertible: side view, closing the top 1/3.

BMW 1 Series Convertible: side view, closing the top 2/3.

BMW 1 Series Convertible: side view, closing the top 3/3.

The electro-hydraulic roof opens and closes in 22 seconds.

118i Convertible: Petrol, in-line four cylinder 1,995cc engine with High Precision Direct Injection. Output: 143hp at 6000min (specific output: 71.7hp/litre).  Torque: 190Nm at 4250min.  Acceleration from 0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 9.3 seconds.  Top speed: 209 km/h (130mph).  Average consumption and CO2 emission figures not yet available.

120d Convertible: Diesel, in-line four cylinder, 1995 cc engine with turbo charge and common rail direct injection.  Diesel Particulate Filter fitted as standard. 
Output is 177hp at 4,000min (specific output: 88.7hp/litre).  Torque: 350 Nm at 1750– 3000min.  Acceleration from 0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 8.1 seconds.  Top speed: 222 km/h (138mph).  Average consumption and CO2 emission figures not yet available.

EfficientDynamics - The new BMW 1 Series Convertible is the latest BMW model to benefit from the EfficientDynamics performance and economy measures, with Brake Energy Regeneration featured on all versions and using Alternator Control and an Absorbent Glass Matt battery to harness engine power that would normally have been lost during engine over-run or braking.

An optimum gear shift indicator (with the manual gearbox) informs the driver of the appropriate gear for the most economical driving.

All models feature a new, clutched air conditioning pump. When not in use, the pump decouples and uses only 200 watts, or ten per cent, of the normal power needed to drive a conventional pump.

BMW 1 Series Convertibe: dimensions.

BMW 1 Series Convertible dimensions (mm).

Apart from the range-topping 135i Convertible, all models feature electronic power steering.  In contrast to conventional hydraulic power steering, the 1 Series’ electronic system operates on an ‘on demand’ basis, reducing the usual drain of part of the engine output to power a traditional steering hydraulic system.

All four-cylinder manual gearbox cars feature BMW’s Auto Start-Stop system as standard.  In urban traffic, when the gear is deselected and the clutch pedal raised, the engine automatically cuts out, thus eliminating emissions and any fuel consumption while static.  When the traffic starts moving, the clutch is depressed in order to select the gear to pull away and, immediately, the engine fires back into life.

All BMW 1 Series models feature a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. An optional six-speed automatic gearbox is available for all models.  Steering wheel-mounted paddles enabling manual shifts of the auto ‘box are standard on 135i cars and optional on 125i models.

In common with the 135i Coupé, the 135i Convertible models also benefit from BMW’s electronic differential lock.  The electronic differential lock works when the car is accelerating hard out of corners or tight bends.  In this situation, it electronically slows the spinning inside rear wheel to enhance vehicle traction and ensure that all available power is transferred to the road.

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