Six years after it first arrived in UK showrooms, BMW’s 1 series is still playing an important role in the company’s sales success. It accounts for around 30% of BMW’s UK sales and for 70% of buyers it is their first BMW.
And once in, they tend to stay. Almost two-thirds of 1 hatchback owners have gone on to buy another BMW, a loyalty rate that compares well with the best in the industry.
This is expected to continue, if not improve, with the redesigned line, on sale from 17 September, according to James Morrison, small car product manager at BMW GB.
“We want to build on the success of the previous car so from the rear, for example, it looks similar but it has grown up, the car has matured into its second generation,” said Morrison.
He noted the 1 is still the only rear-wheel drive car in its class but the main brief in the development of the new model was to address criticism of the previous one.
“The rear space was too tight so we’ve changed that,” said Morrison. “Big news is that the boot gains 30 litres so it’s now bigger than the boot in a VW Golf.”
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The ride of the first generation was also criticised for being too hard or too sporty and that has been addressed with the car signed off on UK roads. To prove the point, the media launch in Berlin included a short section on very un-German like road surfaces – more like a typical UK B road – where journalists were encouraged to switch between the different suspension settings.
To create the extra interior space that first generation buyers felt was lacking, the new 1 is bigger than the outgoing model: 83mm longer, 14mm wider and the wheelbase 30mm longer. UK prices start at GBP19,375 for the 116i, rising to GBP23,480 for the 120d. Then there’s the traditionally lengthy options list.