BMW 1 Series: Big-league power in a pint-sized package - East Valley Tribune: Business

BMW 1 Series: Big-league power in a pint-sized package

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Posted: Saturday, November 10, 2007 12:00 am | Updated: 7:17 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Building performance on a budget isn’t exactly a BMW trait. The company’s current focus is creating vehicles that combine luxury and power with pricetags that, unfortunately, remain out of range for most buyers. The new 1 Series turns the tables on that notion. Scheduled for release in April 2008, the car will be affordable and capable of the kind of performance punch that has made BMW such a sought-after brand.

Building performance on a budget isn’t exactly a BMW trait.

The company’s current focus is creating vehicles that combine luxury and power with pricetags that, unfortunately, remain out of range for most buyers.

The new 1 Series turns the tables on that notion. Scheduled for release in April 2008, the car will be affordable and capable of the kind of performance punch that has made BMW such a sought-after brand.

The 1 Series is intended to channel the BMW 2002 coupe, a truly magical machine that was built from 1968-’76. It single-handedly established the German automaker as a constructor of exciting, high-quality vehicles capable of running circles around most traditional sports cars.

BMW has been making the 1 Series for European consumption for many years and, most recently, introduced a new hatchback version that’s similar in size to the Audi A3.

However, the company determined that a hatchback-style wagon shape wouldn’t convey the desired sporty flavor, or connect with buyers whose memories of the classic 2002 have not faded. So the decision was made to restyle the back end of the car for the North American market and develop both coupe and convertible models.

The sporty coupe features pillar-less side glass (for that hardtop look) and thin front and rear roof supports that show off a variation of the “Hofmeister Kink,” the signature forward angle where the “C” pillar meets the belt line (see the description on the main photo). At the front, the 1 Series’ double-kidney-shaped grille is a dead giveaway as to the car’s origins.

The plan was also to stretch the distance between the front and rear wheels as far as possible, which tends to smooth out the ride and provide more interior room. This also means there’s less front and rear overhang for a fat-free appearance. The 1 Series is about 8.5 inches shorter and 1.5 inches narrower than the 3 Series coupe, but 1.3 inches taller.

BMW enthusiasts will be delighted to learn that the 1 Series will share the larger 3 Series powerplants.

That means the base 128i runs with a 230-horsepower 3.0-liter inline six cylinder, while the I35i gets a 300-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.0.

Both engines direct their torque to the rear wheels via six-speed manual transmissions or optional six-speed automatics.

Although BMW hasn’t provided performance numbers for the 128i, the company does report that the twin-turbo 135i will reach 60 m.p.h. in just 5.3 seconds.

Both the 128i and 135i will arrive with plenty of standard gear, including climate control, cruise control, plus most common power accessories. The 135i gets larger 18-inch wheels, sport-tuned suspension, bigger brakes, high-powered xenon headlights and an aerodynamic body kit. Convertibles feature a power top that can be raised or lowered in 22 seconds and at speeds up to 25 m.p.h.

As expected, BMW’s option sheet for the 1 Series is a lengthy one and includes leather seats (vinyl coverings are standard), sunroof and a navigation system that comes with BMW’s one-knob-controls-all iDrive. This also works the communications, cabin temperature and entertainment systems.

The 1 Series should attract a more cost-conscious crowd into BMW’s showrooms for a look-see, as well as appeal to those old enough to remember the ear-to-ear-grinning thrill induced by piloting the original 2002 coupe. Factor in the generous power quotient, and this Bimmer looks like a winner.

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