The History Of BMW 1-series

The BMW 1 Series (platforms E81/ E87 and E82/ E88) is a small-luxury car / small family car produced by the German automaker BMW since 2004. The 1 Series is the only vehicle in its class featuring rear-wheel drive and a longitudinally-mounted engine.

It replaced the BMW 3 Series Compact range and is currently the smallest and most affordable vehicle (depending on the engine model) in the BMW range. Unlike its predecessor, the new vehicle is built on its own platform; however, it shares many components with the E90 3 Series. Shared parts include MacPherson struts in the front of the car and a trapezoidal-link rear axle. BMW has stated that it shares over 60% of components with the current E90 BMW 3 Series.

The 1 Series was first offered to the market in 2004 as a five-door hatchback.

The 1 Series is built in Regensburg and Leipzig, Germany, with the 4 cylinder petrol/ gas engines coming from the Hams Hall plant in Coleshill north east of Birmingham, England.

During its first full year on the market in 2005, it became one of BMW's most successful products. 149,493 units were sold, leading to a third-place finish in total numbers sold by model. Only the 3 and 5 Series sold better.

2007 mid-generation refresh

BMW upgraded the 1 Series for 2007 and introduced a 3-door sports hatch variant (code named E81). Changes to the model were minor headlight and taillight revisions, new front/ rear bumpers and minor revisions to the interior. The dashboard has been updated, and a recommended gear indicator is now present on models with manual transmissions.

New technologies include auto start/ stop, Brake Energy Regeneration, Electric Power Steering, an electric water pump, and a host of drivetrain modifications designed for fuel economy, increased performance, and lower emissions. BMW marketing has named this combination of technologies EfficientDynamics, which will also be implemented in other BMW models.

The 1 Series is effectively the first in the world to have mild hybrid technology as standard equipment, although BMW is careful in its marketing not to label it as a hybrid vehicle, as this brings market expectation of electrically assisted drive.

The flagship of the range will be the 135i with a 3-litre twin-turbo petrol engine, generating 225 kW/ 306 hp (DIN) with its six cylinders. This model also comes with a modified M sports package as standard. The 135i comes with the world's first differential with double-helical ball bearings which have the advantage of running at an even lower operating temperature reached more quickly than before thanks to the reduction of fluid required in the differential . The 123d (150 kW/ 204 hp(DIN)) heads up the range of diesels and is the first ever 4-cylinder diesel engine to come with sequential twin-turbo technology. In terms of fuel consumption, the 123d and 120d rate between 4.8L/ 100km (59mpg-imp; 49mpg-US) and 5.2L/ 100km (54mpg-imp; 45mpg-US).

Like the three- and five-door BMW 1 Series models, the E82 also features various BMW EfficientDynamics components to reduce fuel consumption (see below). The Coupé is 133mm (5.2in) longer than the hatch, creating 20 litres of extra boot space. It is 220mm (8.7in) shorter than 3-series Coupé (E92). 120d, 123d and 135i Coupés' announced unladen weights (EU) are 1450, 1495, and 1,560kg (3,400lb), respectively (corresponding to approx. 3,285lb (1,490kg) curb weight for the 135i - a 90lb (41kg) reduction from the 335i Coupé).

The 1 Series Coupé is marketed in the US as a spiritual successor to the legendary BMW New Class with its long bonnet, slim cabin and short rear. Apart from slight modifications, it uses the same nose design as the rest of the 1 Series so as to ensure some visual consistency within the range. It has been said that the BMW 1 envokes memories of the E36 BMW, as stated in both Road and Track and Car and Driver Magazines.

The new 1-Series Cabriolet offers four petrol models ranging from the 118i's 143 hp 2.0-litre unit to the 306 hp 3.0-litre six-cylinder 135i, while a 177hp (132kW) four-cylinder turbodiesel will also be available. The convertible will be available with a fabric top, to differentiate it further from the now steel-roofed 3-series convertible E93. It is now in size and spirit very close to the original 3-series convertible.


On June 27, 2007, BMW released official information about the new upcoming 1-series Coupé. In Europe, the Coupé would be available fall 2007 in 3 engine specifications: the known 120d and the new 204 hp 123d and 306 hp 135i, both twin-turbo engines.

On 30 June 2007, BMW of North America officially announced the 1-Series Coupé as a 2008 model (code named E82) and that will be the first 1 Series to go on sale in the USA. Two models are initially to be offered: the 128i and the 135i. The 128i will be powered by a 3.0 liter, 230horsepower (170kW) inline six cylinder engine. The 135i Coupé will be propelled by a 300horsepower (220kW), twin turbocharged 3.0 liter inline six cylinder engine. Both engines are shared with 3-series models 328i and 335i. The 135i is priced about $6,000 less than the 335i Coupé.

BMW debuted the latest addition to the 1 Series line-up, the 1 Series convertible (E88), on September 29, 2007. The 1 Series Coupé (E82) was launched at the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA) 2007, which went on sale on November 24, 2007. The North American introduction of the E82/ E88 was during the second quarter of 2008, where it was credited with helping BMW overtake Lexus as the top luxury brand.

The engines available for E81 and E87 are basically the same as found in the E90/ E91, with exception for the 3.0 L inline-6, which is slightly modified to produce more power. For the 2008 model year, the 135i is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that produces 300horsepower (220kW) and 300ft·lbf (410N·m) of torque from 1,400 rpm. For the 135i Coupé, acceleration from 0–62 mph (0–100 km/ h) is 5.4 seconds (via BMW website) although Car and Driver magazine recently recorded an amazing 4.9 0-60, and top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph (250 km/ h). Fuel efficiency is increased to 30.7mpg-US (7.66L/ 100km; 36.9mpg-imp), an improvement of 18% compared to its predecessor.

The engines below are preceded by their model year introduction.

In early 2006 the 5-speed manual transmission in the 116i and 118i was phased out in favor of the 6-speed all 2006 and newer models with the manual transmission carry.

CAR Magazine has asserted that there will be an M version of the 1 series, although BMW denies that the M1 nameplate will be resurrected in respect for the M1 supercar of the late 1970s. Instead, at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show in October 2007, BMW showed a concept version with the series designation "tii", a tribute to the famed vehicle of the 1970s.. Elements of this concept have appeared in an accessory line from BMW that has been premiered at the Geneva Motor Show (March 2008). This "tii" model is seen in the recently released Gran Turismo 5 Prologue as well as the standard 1 series.

Sales statistics according to BMW's annual reports.

  • 2004: 39,247 (Launched in September)
  • 2005: 149,493
  • 2006: 151,918
  • 2007: 165,803

The vehicle is currently promoted by Kermit from the Muppet Show. There is a commercial in which Kermit drives a BMW 1 Series around in a desert making figure eights, showcasing the car's agile nature and playful handling.

BMW is showing a 3-episode web movie promo (filmed in Hamburg with a New York cast) that looks almost like a film noir and feels more like a mini–TV movie or film, with the main focus on the actors and more subtle appearances of the car itself. These episodes were made for viewing in Japanese movie theaters, but can be viewed via the internet.

BMW is also advertising the car using comparisons to its classic 2002, an iconic two-door from the 1970s known for its light weight and high level of performance (relative to the era).

BMW recently released a viral market stunt to promote the BMW 1 Series. The campaign centered on an online video 'mockumentary' called Rampenfest that chronicles the adventures of a small Bavarian town attempting to use a giant ramp to literally launch the new BMW from Germany to the U.S.

In 1998, a BMW E36 320d had won the 24 Hours Nürburgring, being able to drive very long stints. In 2006, a BMW 120d modified with a BMW customer racing kit available for 95,000 Euros, entered by "Schubert Motors" repeated a similar if not better result. It scored 5th in a field of 220 cars, many of them (Porsche 911 GT3, BMW M3, Lamborghini Gallardo, Aston Martin, Maserati) much more powerful than the 245PS (180kW) of the 120d, thus a significantly stronger field of competitors than in 1998. The racing version of 120d is called BMW 120d Motorsport and it weighs only 1,135kg (2,500lb) with a driver. It includes a 100-litre (26US gal; 22imp gal) diesel tank for endurance racing and has a maximum torque of 450N·m (330ft·lbf) at 3000 rpm - the maximum power, 245bhp (183kW) is at 4200 rpm and the redline is only at 5000 rpm.

Jeremy Clarkson, and other journalists possessed a number of other complaints about the 1-series which were or are aesthetic, and have influenced sales demographics. At varying times, the 1-series has been described as having 'Bread-van' looks, or as a 'Shameless attempt by BMW to sell a badge rather than a car'. Clarkson in particular had described the average BMW 1-series owner as receiving the following assessment from his next door neighbours (on BBC's Top Gear) as 'hmm, he's bought an expensive car - he must be absolutely bonkers!' Clarkson went so far as to end his review for the Sunday Times with 'The 1-Series is Crap.'

Critical response has dramatically changed in recent years - the 1-series coupe and convertible have been described as 'returning BMW to its roots', and the M120i has been described as the spiritual successor of the original M325i of the 1980s. Clarkson himself awarded the 2008 model five stars, and had the following to say: 'The 135 coupé is the best car BMW makes.'

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