In case you forgot how little BMW cares about its history these days, here’s the new front-wheel drive 2020 BMW 1 Series, which is really just a more expensive Mini Cooper 5-Door. Only, this Mini comes with over 300 horsepower…
Never mind tradition, legacies, heritage and all that bother. They just get in the way of profit. The money these days, is in building huge trucks out in South Carolina, and front-wheel drive compacts. That sounds as much like BMW’s forte, as it would be for, say, the Italian leather craftsmen at Tod’s to start going after all that sweet, sweet Crocs cash.
Anyway, BMW is no different to any other manufacturer savvy to economies of scales. Which is why the all-new 2020 BMW 1 Series has gone front-wheel drive on us. The Germans still claim this one will be sportier and more agile than the old rear-drive cars, highlighting the increased width, and shorter length and wheelbase.
Despite this the new BMW 1 Series serves up more room inside for passengers, increasing kneeroom, headroom, and generally all areas including the cargo department – it’ll take 20 litres more than before with the seats up, and a total of 1,200 litres with the rear seats dropped.
Plenty of aluminium use makes the car around 30 kilos lighter, and more rigid, so BMW makes high claims about performance. Apart from all the front-wheel drive three- and four-cylinder versions (so basically four-door Mini Coopers), the big-time model is the 2020 BMW M135i xDrive, all primed for you to throw the M Performance catalogue at it. You can have big 19-inch wheels, M Performance brakes, carbon fibre mirrors and faux rear diffuser, and a gloss black finish for the grille they had left over off the X7.
This hatchback features a mechanical limited-slip differential, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive that can split up to half the power to the rear.
As a result of the new design with a transversely mounted engine under the bonnet, this BMW looks entirely plagiaristic, and if it wasn’t for the huge nostrils up front and the blue-white roundel you could easily mistake the Bimmer for a Ford, Kia, Opel, or any number of derivative hatchbacks out there. Looking at the profile particularly, it’s quite disconcerting to see so much front overhang in a BMW, and a dash-to-axle ratio of a minivan.
If it helps you vet over the looks though, the BMW M135i xDrive will to zero to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds with the M Performance package fitted, and top out at a governed 250km/h. With a 2.0-litre turbocharged four making 306 horsepower and 450Nm of torque, the BMW is a dead match for rivals such as the Mercedes-AMG A35, the Volkswagen Golf R, and the Audi S3.