2020 BMW 1 Series: prices, performance, practicality, images and on sale date

Bye-bye, rear-wheel drive

AN ALL-NEW BMW 1 Series is on its way — without rear-wheel drive, for the first time ever.


What is the 2020 BMW 1 Series?

Since the first generation car was launched in 2004, the BMW 1 Series has been the most affordable route into new BMW ownership. Unsurprisingly, the compact hatchback has been quite a popular model with UK motorists — at 28,125 units sold, the 1 Series was the best-selling BMW in Britain last year.

Despite its popularity, the car has been fundamentally revised for the all-new 2020 version, with BMW’s trademark rear-wheel drive set-up ditched in favour of front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.

It’s the first of six upcoming models due to switch to front-wheel drive, which dramatically improves the packaging potential and should increase cabin space.

Having the weight of the engine over the driven wheels also improves grip, and should make for a more confidence-inspiring driving experience, but that won’t stop BMW die-hards weeping over the loss of the 1 Series’ key distinction from rivals.


What engines will the 2020 BMW 1 Series come with?

The only engine BMW has confirmed for the 1 Series so far is a 302bhp turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, which will reside under the bonnet of the M135i hot hatch model. As well as being punchy, BMW says the engine will be relatively frugal for a performance car motor, with estimated WLTP fuel economy of 33.1-34.6mpg.

A full engine range will be revealed closer to launch, though it’s likely the new BMW 1 Series will be offered with a variety of petrol and diesel engines, with more powerful models being equipped with all-wheel drive.

The transmission options are expected to comprise a six-speed manual and an eight-speed automatic.


Will there be a plug-in hybrid version?

As the platform that underpins the next BMW 1 Series has been designed with hybrid powertrains in mind, an electrified version of the hatchback is highly likely. If such a car goes on sale, there’s a strong chance it will use a version of the petrol-electric setup used by sister company MINI in the Countryman PHEV.


What tech will the BMW 1 Series have?

BMW is staying very tight-lipped about the 1 Series’ tech specs. Outside of a clever suspension setup and some “innovative technologies”, it’s unclear what tricks it will have up its sleeve when it goes on sale.

However, it wouldn’t be silly to expect it to feature technology that’s filtered down from more expensive BMWs. For example, we could see a fully digital dashboard display, the latest generation of the iDrive interface (complete with voice control and gesture recognition features) and an array of safety assists on the spec sheet.

While the standard equipment items are an unknown at the moment, BMW has been singing the virtues of the all-new platform on which the 1 Series will sit.

Thanks to the front-wheel drive packaging, leg room is claimed to have increased by 33mm, and the boot capacity has grown by 20 litres to an Audi A3 Sportback-matching 380 litres.


When will the 2020 BMW 1 Series go on sale?

The BMW 1 Series will be officially unveiled later this year, and go on sale before the end of 2019. Deliveries will likely commence in early 2020.


How much will the 2020 BMW 1 Series cost?

Pricing details will be confirmed closer to launch, but we anticipate the new BMW 1 Series will cost about the same as the current car. Expect the range to start at around £24,000 for the entry-level model, and rise to roughly £37,000 for the range-topping M performance version.


What are the 2020 BMW 1 Series’ rivals?

When it goes on sale, the BMW 1 Series will be going up against other premium five-door hatchbacks, such as the five-door Audi A3 Sportback and Mercedes-Benz A-class. All-new versions of alternatives such as the Lexus CT and Volvo V40 are expected to be launched within the next few years.


The best cars launching in 2019