New BMW 1 Sequence prototype assessment
The subsequent 1 Sequence might be front-wheel drive and BMW says we must always recover from it. It’s not the primary BMW to undertake this format because the model’s 2 Sequence Energetic and Gran Tourer MPVs use this setup, however they’re marginal automobiles for BMW in relation to gross sales. The 1 Sequence is a big-selling mainstream mannequin, so this all-new model marks a large step in BMW’s historical past and an enormous technical evolution for the corporate.
The brand new front-wheel drive structure – referred to as FAAR – brings many advantages, not least in relation to packaging, weight and subsequently effectivity.
• New BMW M135i xDrive prototype assessment
Spec-for-spec the brand new front-drive automobile 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 biggest load bay in its class, nevertheless it’s a helpful enchancment that’s complimented by far more area inside.
This third-generation 1 Sequence is roomier within the rear. In reality, legroom is way improved. BMW’s Head of Undertaking for the 1 Sequence, Holger Stauch, claims there’s a 20mm enhance 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 automobile’s general size and a 5mm enhance in peak.
Our prototype take a look at automobiles have been closely camouflaged exterior 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, nevertheless 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 automobile 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 automobile is much more agile. Not least because of wider tracks, a extra inflexible physique shell with additional native stiffening – together with what BMW calls a ‘boomerang’ strut on the underside of the automobile 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.
• Greatest hatchbacks on sale
The actual trick is how all of those advances have been utilized and built-in over the 5 years this automobile has been in improvement, with mechanical and digital programs working in a extra linked method and subsequently extra in concord with one another.
Because of this the 1 Sequence character is clearly totally different, however dynamically it’s virtually 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, nevertheless 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 just a little agricultural at the side of 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 automobile but, however with 140bhp efficiency is enough if not gorgeous. 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 need additional 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 outfitted with an ordinary chassis. Softer in setup than the optionally available Sport chassis on our 120d take a look at automobile, it rode nicely and solely began to fidget over bumpier roads because the velocity elevated, the physique management starting to interrupt down because of this.
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 automobile than you’d get from, say, a VW Golf.
Thank the additional physique stiffness, which suggests 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 absorb imperfections.
A brand new single-pinion design for the steering rack means there’s much less friction, so it’s extra conscious of inputs on the wheel. Along with the stiffer shell, the entrance and rear axles really feel higher linked and the automobile reacts faster.
It’s even surprisingly adjustable, because of a brand new stability management system. BMW has built-in a part of the traction management system into the engine ECU, which implies that the system works as much as 10 occasions quicker than earlier than. It’s born out of a tech switch from the agency’s i3S EV, the place controlling the immediately out there torque from an electrical motor is vitally essential.
The trick right here is that BMW’s Efficiency Management setup separates the automobile’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 method mode it’ll actively promote this, which in flip promotes enjoyable. It clearly doesn’t have its predecessor’s rear-wheel drive steadiness and is distinctly totally different, however for many 1 Sequence patrons which finish the facility is distributed gained’t matter.
What’s going to is that in all kinds the lighter 1 Sequence ought to be extra environment friendly, roomier and extra refined, and extra reactive, even when it does now really feel totally different.