New BMW 1 Sequence prototype assessment
The brand new front-wheel drive structure – referred to as FAAR – brings many advantages, not least in the case of packaging, weight and subsequently effectivity.
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Spec-for-spec the brand new front-drive automotive is as much as 20kg lighter in contrast with its predecessor (25kg for xDrive all-wheel drive variations), whereas boot area has risen from 360 litres to 380 litres – this implies it nonetheless isn’t the most important load bay in its class, however it’s a helpful enchancment that’s complimented by rather more area inside.
This third-generation 1 Sequence is roomier within the rear. The truth is, legroom is far improved. BMW’s Head of Challenge for the 1 Sequence, Holger Stauch, claims there’s a 20mm improve in knee clearance to the seat in entrance and 20mm extra headroom. It feels it – and this regardless of solely a 10mm development within the automotive’s total size and a 5mm improve in top.
Our prototype check automobiles have been closely camouflaged outdoors and in, so we didn’t get a terrific impression of the design of this now roomier inside, however the driving dynamics are near remaining sign-off, with BMW’s engineers solely trying to make remaining tweaks to the setup.
It’s no shock that petrol energy might be hottest, with the 118i the large vendor (diesel is predicted to account for round a 3rd of gross sales). The 118i nonetheless makes use of BMW’s 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, however it’s been up to date so it now produces 138bhp. It’s additionally now mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automated gearbox.
The transfer to front-wheel drive has undoubtedly robbed the 1 Sequence of a few of its defining character. A back-to-back drive within the outgoing automotive proved as a lot, however that’s not the complete story. A rear-wheel drive household hatch is one thing of an anachronism, and even when BMW patrons prioritise driving dynamics the agency claims many will nonetheless profit from the packaging enhancements, whereas the automotive is much more agile. Not least due to wider tracks, a extra inflexible physique shell with further native stiffening – together with what BMW calls a ‘boomerang’ strut on the underside of the automotive on the rear – to enhance steering response, suspension management and subsequently trip high quality, and a brand new stability system that really serves to extend the enjoyable issue.
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The actual trick is how all of those advances have been utilized and built-in over the 5 years this automotive has been in improvement, with mechanical and digital methods working in a extra related method and subsequently extra in concord with one another.
Consequently the 1 Sequence character is clearly totally different, however dynamically it’s nearly precisely as you’d anticipate BMW’s interpretation of a front-wheel drive hatch to be. Meaning it’s much less particular person than earlier than, however it’s responsive, affords good physique management, has greater than sufficient grip for a cooking mannequin and delivers respectable efficiency.
The 118i pulls strongly and easily from low down. Our late prototype’s DCT gearbox nonetheless felt a bit clunky and hesitant to kick down at decrease revs, plus a bit agricultural along with the cease/begin system, however as soon as on top of things it was clean and swift sufficient on upshifts.
BMW hasn’t formally revealed efficiency figures for the automotive but, however with 140bhp efficiency is sufficient if not beautiful. Much less weight and barely extra energy means it ought to enhance on the outgoing 118i auto’s 8.7-second 0-62mph time.
From launch you’ll want the 120d if you’d like further grunt. It’s extra refined than ever and delivers a comparatively linear swell of torque that, in a household hatch, means it’s surprisingly fast.
The 118i we tried was geared up with a normal chassis. Softer in setup than the non-compulsory Sport chassis on our 120d check automotive, it rode nicely and solely began to fidget over bumpier roads because the pace elevated, the physique management starting to interrupt down in consequence.
It was extra compliant than the 120d we tried on the Sport springs and dampers. This rolled much less, however with variable ratio steering it felt extra alert, but it didn’t actually sacrifice consolation. There’s a great deal of grip and a better sense of reference to the automotive than you’d get from, say, a VW Golf.
Thank the additional physique stiffness, which implies it rides nicely, because the extra inflexible shell ensures the suspension is much less corrupted by suggestions from the highway floor, permitting a extra secure platform to take in imperfections.
A brand new single-pinion design for the steering rack means there’s much less friction, so it’s extra attentive to inputs on the wheel. Along with the stiffer shell, the entrance and rear axles really feel higher related and the automotive reacts faster.
It’s even surprisingly adjustable, due to a brand new stability management system. BMW has built-in a part of the traction management system into the engine ECU, which signifies that the system works as much as 10 instances sooner than earlier than. It’s born out of a tech switch from the agency’s i3S EV, the place controlling the immediately accessible torque from an electrical motor is vitally necessary.
The trick right here is that BMW’s Efficiency Management setup separates the automotive’s longitudinal (entrance to again) and lateral (side-to-side) movement in order that understeer is managed when cornering, however that there’s sufficient slip allowed to coax the tail spherical gently and tuck the nostril right into a nook.
Within the system’s half means mode it’ll actively promote this, which in flip promotes enjoyable. It clearly doesn’t have its predecessor’s rear-wheel drive stability and is distinctly totally different, however for many 1 Sequence patrons which finish the facility is shipped received’t matter.
What’s going to is that in all varieties the lighter 1 Sequence must be extra environment friendly, roomier and extra refined, and extra reactive, even when it does now really feel totally different.