In the past, non-SUV BMWs used to be synonymous with rear-wheel drive, yet some of the latest models have long ditched their tail-happy abilities by moving to a new, FWD-biased platform.
One of them is the latest 1-Series, a compact hatchback that goes against the likes of the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class, which have a similar layout.
Compared to its predecessor, it has the same length, but it’s wider, taller and has a longer wheelbase. The new architecture has opened up more space in the boot which, at 380 liters (13.4 cu-ft), is comparable to the Volkswagen Golf. The back seat is very roomy and the car still offers that good build quality, retaining the premium feel and being more modern with the new digital instrument cluster and personal assistant.
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Now, despite looking like a warm/hot hatch, this one is actually a humble 118i. This means that it’s powered by a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder petrol engine that produces 138 horsepower (140 PS / 103 kW) and 162 pound-feet (220 Nm) of torque. The mill is paired to a six-speed manual transmission (an auto is optional) and the whole setup actually makes it feel smooth, responsive, refined, quiet and surprisingly agile.
The ride quality is quite good, even on the 19-inch alloys of this M Sport variant, and can get even better by getting smaller rims and adaptive suspension. Despite the switch to FWD, BMW ensured that the driving dynamics have been polished, so the new-gen 1-Series offers sharp steering and plenty of grip in an attempt to counterweight the loss of the inherent balance provided by the front-engined, rear-wheel drive setup. This has made it the best car in class, according to CarGurusUK, who also made another bold claim in their video review.