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Second gen. Bavarian premium compact RWD model hits the markets before year's end
New BMW 1 Series gets longer, wider, 8-speed automatic
Latest TwinPower Turbo & ConnectedDrive technologies

2012 BMW 1 series sport line, front view.

As height remains unchanged, the 17mm wider body brings a sportier look, a more spacious interior and typical BMW proportions: long bonnet and wheelbase, with a set-back cabin.

08 June 2011 : Bringing a new compact car to a highly competitive market segment is not an easy task, especially if advanced technical content is high on the agenda.

But when this new model belongs to the premium sphere of a segment (in this instance, the compact / lower-medium / C-segment), price considerations take the passenger seat, leaving the driver's one to brand image, technical and quality leadership. Although the value-for-money equation still applies, it does so from different angles.

With the new generation 2012 BMW 1 Series, which is due for market launch from September 2011 (UK market with on-the-road prices starting from GB£19,375 for the 116i ES), the Bavarian brand does not offer only the unique rear-wheel-drive argument for the car's segment.

2012 BMW 1 series sport line, profile.

At 4324mm, the new 5-door 1 Series is 85mm longer than the 1st generation. The wheelbase grows by 30mm (to 2690mm).

Indeed, the equipment list of the new generation includes an optional eight-speed automatic transmission, a Start/Stop function for both manual and automatic transmissions, a standard ECO PRO mode for efficiency, an electromechanical power steering, optional Variable Sports Steering.

Other features include  (standard or optional, depending on markets and versions) the Driving Stability Control with Dynamic Traction Control and electronically locking rear differential, the BMW iDrive and ConnectedDrive systems, high-beam assistance, adaptive headlights, parking assistance, reversing camera, lane departure warning, cruise control with brake function, speed-limit and no-passing information, Internet connectivity, smartphone and music player integration, real-time traffic information and others.

The picture is clearer now. Yes, it's a compact car, but not any compact one.


2012 BMW 1 series sport line, rear view.

Unique rear-wheel-drive model in the compact C-segment.

To start from the basic quantitative argument, the second generation BMW 1 Series comes significantly bigger than its predecessor. At 4324 millimetres length, the new 5-door 1 Series (the other body versions will follow later) is 85 millimetres longer than the 1st generation. The wheelbase grows by 30mm (to 2690mm), with a 51mm wider front track (1535mm) and 72mm wider one at the back (1569mm). The following links open the pages for full 1 Series specifications, dimensions, weights for the petrol and the diesel versions. 

As height remains unchanged (1421mm), the 17mm wider body (1765mm) brings a sportier look with a more spacious interior (including 20mm more rear legroom), and the typical BMW proportions: a long bonnet and wheelbase with a set-back cabin.

Size and volume benefits allowed the luggage compartment to grow 9.1 percent, from 330 to 360 litres. By lowering the standard 60/40 split rear seats, this volume can be increased up to 1,200-litres, with a flat surface extending all the way to the front seats. The optional through-loading system has 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats.

2012 BMW 1 series sport line, interior view, front, iDrive, steering wheel, dashboard, LCD monitor...

BMW’s iDrive controller on the centre console with a high-resolution 6.5 inch flatscreen monitor (Sport Line interior).


On the engine side, BMW says that its new 1 Series will be launched with a choice of three diesel (2.0 litre) and two petrol engines (1.6L), all longitudinally mounted, with four inline cylinders. It is also BMW's first production model to break the 100g/km mark with CO2 emissions, achieving 99g/km in the 116d EfficientDynamics.

All models feature the new BMW TwinPower Turbo technology with direct injection for all the petrol and diesel engines. A brief description follows for each of the engines, with the full specifications available from these links: 1 Series specs, petrol and 1 Series specs, diesel.

 BMW 118i

Four-cylinder in-line petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology package ( twin-scroll turbocharger, direct injection with maximum injection pressure of 200 bar, VALVETRONIC and Double-VANOS variable valve control). The twin-scroll principle uses separate ducts both in the exhaust manifold and the turbocharger  itself, each serving one pair of two cylinders, so the engine responds rapidly to the throttle movements.

Capacity: 1 598 cc, output: 125 kW/ 170 hp/ 168 bhp at 4,800 rpm, maximum torque: 250 Nm (184.4 lb-ft) at 1,500 – 4,500 rpm, acceleration 0 – 100 km/h: 7.4 seconds, maximum speed: 225 km/h, combined-cycle fuel consumption*: 5.8 – 5.9 litres/100 kilometres (equivalent to 48.7 – 47.8 UK mpg, 40.5 – 39.9 US mpg or 17.2 – 16.9 kms per litre. Conversions are based on figures), CO2 emissions*: 134 – 137 g/km, emissions standard: EU5 (* EU test figures, variations apply due to differences in the tyres fitted).

 BMW 116i

Four-cylinder in-line petrol engine with the TwinPower Turbo technology package, 1,598 cc, 100 kW/ 136 hp/ 134 bhp at 4, 400 rpm, 220 Nm (162 lb-ft) at 1,350 – 4, 300 rpm, 0 – 100 km/h in 8.5 seconds, maximum speed: 210 km/h, combined-cycle fuel consumption*: 5.5 – 5.7 litres/100 kilometres (equivalent to 51.3 – 49.5 UK mpg, 42.8 – 41.3 US mpg or 18.2 – 17.6 kms per litre), CO2 emissions*: 129 – 132 g/km, emissions standard: EU5.

 BMW 120d

Four-cylinder in-line diesel engine with the TwinPower Turbo technology package, consisting of variable-geometry turbocharger, common-rail magnetic-valve direct injection (max. injection pressure: 1,800 bar), 1,955 cc, 135 kW/ 184 hp/ 181 bhp at 4, 000 rpm, 380 Nm (280 lb-ft) at 1,750 – 2,750 rpm, 0 – 100 km/h in 7.2 seconds, maximum speed: 228 km/h, combined-cycle fuel consumption*: 4.5 – 4.6 litres/100 kilometres (equivalent to 62.7 – 61.4 UK mpg, 52.3 – 51.1 US mpg or 22.2 – 21.7 kms per litre), CO2 emissions*: 119 – 122 g/km, emissions standard: EU5.

 BMW 118d

Four-cylinder in-line diesel engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology package (max. injection pressure: 1,600 bar), 1,955 cc, 105 kW/143 hp / 141 bhp at 4,000 rpm, 320 Nm (236 lb-ft) at 1,750 – 2, 500 rpm, 0 – 100 km/h in 8.9 seconds, maximum speed: 212 km/h, combined-cycle fuel consumption*: 4.4 – 4.5 litres/100 kilometres (equivalent to 64.1 – 62.7 UK mpg, 53.4 – 52.3 US mpg or 22.7 – 22.2 kms per litre), CO2 emissions*: 115 – 118 g/km, emissions standard: EU5.

 BMW 116d

Four-cylinder in-line diesel engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology package (max. injection pressure: 1,600 bar), 1,955 cc, 85 kW/116 hp / 114 bhp at 4,000 rpm, 260 Nm (192 lb-ft) at 1,750 – 2,500 rpm, 0 – 100 km/h in 10.3 seconds, maximum speed: 200 km/h, combined-cycle fuel consumption*: 4.3 – 4.5 litres/100 kilometres (equivalent to 65.6  – 62.7 UK mpg, 54.7 – 52.3 US mpg or 23.2 – 22.2 kms per litre), CO2 emissions*: 114 – 117 g/km, emissions standard: EU5.


2012 BMW 1 series: iDrive controller with surrounding buttons for access to tel, navigation, CD, menu and other functions.

iDrive controller.

Interior surfaces are layered, giving an organic look and feel.

In conjunction with an optional navigation system and the BMW Professional radio, the new 1 Series uses the BMW iDrive system. This comprises a controller on the centre console, favourites buttons and a freestanding flatscreen monitor. The 6.5 or 8.8-inch high-resolution control display, which is integrated into the instrument panel, is used for all information, entertainment, telecommunications and navigation functions (when satellite navigation is specified).

New BMW 1 Series Sport Line (red) and Urban Line (blue).

New 1 Series Sport Line (left) and Urban Line (right).

Storage space is available in the door pockets, the glove box and a compartment under the armrest. Bottles of up to 1 litre can be fitted into the lower door panel sections, in addition to two cupholders on the centre console.

An optional storage package includes compartments in the rear doors and nets on the front seatbacks.

 Sport Line

The BMW Sport Line and Urban Line make their debut with special interior and exterior equipment.

2012 BMW 1 Series: instruments of the Sport Line.

2012 BMW 1 Series: instruments of the Urban Line.

Instruments of the Sport Line (top) and Urban Line (above).

The Sport Line interior includes sports seats with specific coverings, leather sports steering wheel with contrasting red stitching, a red keyclasp, adjustable armrests, high-gloss black interior trim and matt coral accent strips. The instruments have specific number and scaling designs. The ambient lighting can be switched between orange and white, the inclusion of this feature in the centre console and footwell is exclusive to the BMW Sport Line.

Other features of the Sport Line include 16-inch star-spoke light-alloy wheels, black exhaust pipe end trim, and door sill finishers with “BMW Sport” lettering. The kidney bars, the central air intake trim bar, the side intake surrounds and the rear bumper trim are all high-gloss black. Additional options include high-gloss black mirror caps and 17-inch two-tone light-alloy wheels.

 Urban Line

The Urban Line includes other specific cloth/leather seats, leather sports steering wheel, adjustable armrests, and acrylic glass interior trim, which is available in white or black with matt oxide silver accent strips.

The ambient and courtesy lights can be switched between orange and LED royal blue. An additional light source on the B-pillar enhances the effect of the illumination.

2012 BMW 1 Series, Urban Line, dashboard, steering wheel, contre console...

Urban Line interior.

The distinctive exterior includes specific 16-inch V-spoke alloy wheels or optional 17-inch high-gloss white wheels with an angled surface, and white rear bumper trim. Additional design accents on the front include white kidney bars with chrome-plated fronts and a white trim bar for the centre air intake. The side intake surrounds are painted in the same colour as the car, and the BMW Urban Line also includes door sill finishers with “BMW Urban” lettering and a white keyclasp. White mirror caps are available as an option.

Other individually customizable features include a choice of seat coverings, interior trims and accent strips and light-alloy wheels.

2012 BMW 1 series: rear seats view, Urban Line.

Urban Line rear seats.

Apart from the new BMW Lines, the standard equipment includes satin silver interior trim and Move fabric seats, and among the optional alternatives are additional interior trims and accent panels and Dakota leather seats in a choice of two colours. All upholstery versions are also available for the optional sports seats, and there are first three standard and five metallic exterior paint colours.


The new 1 Series extends the scope of the EfficientDynamics programme, with intelligent energy management systems, including brake energy regeneration and electromechanical power steering. Depending on the model, these may also include a gear shift indicator, automatic air valve control, a high-efficiency rear differential, a map-regulated oil pump, a pressure/rev-regulated electric fuel pump, a self-disconnecting air-conditioning compressor and tyres with reduced rolling resistance.

2012 BMW 1 series, urban line, boot view, optional through-loading system with 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats.

Optional 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats.

The Automatic Start/Stop function, which switches off the engine when it is stationary at traffic lights or in slow-moving traffic, is included as standard in the new BMW 1 Series, with both manual and automatic transmissions.


Activated using the Drive Performance Control, the standard ECO PRO mode is a new feature that adjusts various on-board systems to maximise efficiency. It adjusts the engine map, heating, air conditioning, and mirror/seat heating to minimize fuel consumption. When in ECO PRO mode, the throttle response is adjusted to encourage a more economical driving style. The resulting increase in range is shown on a display, with the extra economy fed back to the driver and the in-car displays showing the additional number of miles / kms achieved. 

2012 BMW 1 series: Sport and ECO PRO buttons on the left of the centre console.

Sport and ECO PRO buttons on the left of the centre console.

BMW says that at a later date, the range will be expanded with the BMW 116d EfficientDynamics Edition. It will be powered by a 1.6-litre diesel engine, and feature a number of fuel-saving and emission-reducing technologies, including solutions to further optimize drive-train efficiency, improve aerodynamic performance and reduce rolling resistance. The BMW 116d EfficientDynamics Edition will have an output of 85 kW/116 hp, with fuel consumption of 3.8 litres per 100 kilometres (equivalent to 74.3 UK mpg, 61.9 US mpg, or 26.3 kms / litre) and CO2 emissions of 99 grams per kilometre over the EU combined cycle (provisional figures).

 8-Speed automatic

The BMW 1 Series, which comes with a standard six-speed manual gearbox for petrol and diesel versions, is the only compact car also available with the option of an eight-speed automatic transmission, offering a better spread of ratios.

The Steptronic function used in the automatic transmission allows gear changes to be initiated manually using the electronic selector lever. A further option is the eight-speed sports automatic transmission, which includes shift paddles on the steering wheel.


On the handling side, the rear-wheel drive system and longitudinally mounted in-line engines are combined with double-joint cross-strut front axle with McPherson struts and sway bars and a five-link rear axle. The high aluminium content of the front axle structure reduces the unsprung mass.

The new BMW 1 Series has a wider track than its predecessor (51 millimetres wider at the front, 72 millimetres wider at the rear), with a 50:50 weight distribution between front and rear. It also has electromechanical power steering as standard. An optional Servotronic function provides speed-dependent power assist.

Variable Sport Steering, also optional, reduces the number of steering wheel rotations required to make sharp turns. In this mechanical system, steering ratios are adjusted using a variable steering rack. Parking and turning are safer and easier, requiring minimal steering effort, but steering precision and directional stability at high speeds are maintained.

As an alternative to the standard 16-inch wheels, the new BMW 1 Series is also available with 16, 17 and 18-inch light-alloy wheels.

Active safety equipment includes the DSC Dynamic Stability Control, ABS anti-lock braking, DTC Dynamic Traction Control, CBC Cornering Brake Control and DBC Dynamic Braking Control. Other features now include braking assistance, fading compensation, brake drying and hill assist.

The DTC mode increases the intervention thresholds of DSC, making it easier to drive on loose sand or deep snow. By allowing slight slippage of the drive wheels, it also facilitates controllable oversteer. DSC Off mode activates the electronic rear axle differential locking system. If either of the drive wheels suffers wheelspin while accelerating through tight bends, brake force is applied to this individually, so that the opposite wheel maintains traction.

The standard passive safety equipment comprises front airbags, side airbags integrated into the seatbacks, front and rear head airbags, three-point automatic seatbelts in all seats, front seatbelt tension limiters and pre-tensioners, and an ISOFIX child seat mounting system in the rear.


The BMW ConnectedDrive options enhance comfort, safety, information and entertainment. They include the Adaptive Headlight function. Incorporated in the optional xenon headlights, it adjusts the illumination depending on the vehicle’s speed, steering angle and yaw rate. At low speeds, the turning lights integrated into the foglamp illuminate the road in the direction of travel.

2012 BMW 1 series: Adaptive Headlight function incorporated in the optional xenon headlights.

The Adaptive Headlight function incorporated in the optional xenon headlights adjusts the illumination depending on the vehicle’s speed, steering angle and yaw rate.

Other features include rain sensor, automatic headlight control, high beam assistance, park distance control, which allows safe, precise parking, with the image from the reversing camera appearing on the iDrive control display. Park assist aids parallel parking by identifying suitable spaces and steering the car into place if required.

Cruise control with brake function controls the engine and brakes while setting the optimum automatic gear to maintain the speed selected by the driver. The Lane Departure Warning facility now incorporates Collision Warning, which uses a camera at the bottom of the rear-view mirror to monitor the road markings and prevent unintended changes of direction.

The camera also monitors other vehicles and, if required, sounds a two-stage alarm to prevent collisions. A visual warning appears on the instrument panel if a minimum distance set by the driver is not maintained, and a flashing symbol and acoustic signal are activated if avoiding action is required.

2012 BMW 1 series: 6-Speed manual with iDrive in Sport Line.

2012 BMW 1 series: automatic gearbox in Urban Line.

6-Speed manual with iDrive in Sport Line (top) and automatic gearbox in Urban Line (above), both with iDrive controller and buttons (right) and Sport / ECO PRO modes buttons (left).

The Speed Limit Info system has been expanded, with symbols on the instrument panel showing known speed limits and no-passing signs above or beside the road as recorded by its camera.

New technologies facilitate the integration of Apple iPhones and other smartphones and music players, including online services. BMW Apps allow iPhone users to receive web radio stations and display Facebook and Twitter posts on the onboard monitor.

Another new function, Real-Time Traffic Information, provides congestion data and recommended diversions. The new BMW 1 Series also has unlimited Internet connectivity.


The new premium compact BMW model offers a standard driving experience switch (on the central console), allowing the driver to tailor the car’s settings to his / her personal taste, including engine characteristics, DSC driving stability control, optional Servotronic settings and automatic gear change programme and dynamics.

COMFORT, SPORT and ECO PRO modes are also included as standard. The optional eight-speed sports automatic, Variable Sport Steering and BMW Sport Line versions also have SPORT+ mode.

Cars fitted with the Professional navigation system (it includes a hard disk) have a sport display on the control monitor showing real-time engine performance and torque.

2012 BMW 1 series: keyless remote.

The keyless remote activates the Start/Stop button.

The standard equipment of the new BMW 1 Series also includes remote-controlled central locking, height-adjustable driver’s and front-seat passenger’s seats, electric wing mirrors, electric front and rear windows, BMW Business radio and CD, six speakers and an AUX IN connection, and air conditioning.

Options include two-zone automatic air conditioning, electrically adjustable and heated seats, multifunction steering wheel, automatically dimming rear-view and wing mirrors, foglamps, electric sunroof, and towbar with removable ball.

The engine of the new BMW 1 Series can be activated by touching the Start/Stop button as soon as the keyless remote is inside the car. An optional Comfort Access system automatically locks and unlocks the car.

Individual entertainment features include a DVD changer, DAB receiver, and 360-watt, digitally amplified 12-speaker Harman Kardon hi-fi system.

Like its five-door predecessor, the new BMW 1 Series is made in Germany, at BMW’s Regensburg assembly plant (4.5 million automobiles in its 25-year history) in Bavaria, together with the BMW 3 Series saloon, coupé and convertible, the BMW M3 and the BMW Z4.

Since the launch of the 1st 1 Series generation (2004), BMW sold more than one million units worldwide.


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