Instead, the new 50:50 AWD M135i gets a downsized turbo-four, 225kW of power, and oomph to tackle A35, S3 and Focus ST
BMW has opted not to make a version of its radically different 1 Series hatchback to tackle extra-hardcore hot hatches like the Mercedes-AMG A45 or Audi RS3.
Instead, the new M135i xDrive flagship — which migrates to the company’s UKL transverse, all-wheel drive architecture to maximise cabin space — is built to battle next-tier rivals such as the A35 AMG, Audi S3, Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf R.
The fact that this new 1er is no longer able to house a longitudinal drivetrain means there’s no chance of a M140i replacement using the hallowed 3.0-litre inline-six.
Instead it gets a brand new 2.0-litre four, the most powerful BMW has ever made, mated to a new eight-speed auto gearbox with torque converter and paddles.
Its figures of 225kW peak power and 450Nm from 1750rpm are down on said 250kW/500Nm M140i. Despite the addition of a new 50:50 capable AWD system with hang-on clutch, and a Torsen LSD at the front, the 4.8-second 0-100km/h time is two-tenths slower.
The M135i xDrive’s 225kW/450Nm outputs stack up next to the 225kW/400Nm A35 AMG, 213kW/380Nm Audi S3 and 206kW/420Nm Focus ST, as does the sprint time.
“Our competitors are the A35 and S3, they’re our target, We have the M2 Competition for more. We see no need in the hatch [for more], since the global take-up rate us around 5 per cent, so it’s not the core of our group. At the moment that’s our strategy,” 1 Series chief spokesperson Florian Moser explained to us this week.
You can expect the imminent 2 Series Gran Coupe rival form the Mercedes-AMG CLA35 to share the same UKL architecture and sport a derivative with the same drivetrain when it lobs later in the year.
However, brand enthusiasts can relax in the knowledge that BMW has no plans for the next 2 Series Coupe (and presumably the Convertible) to go transverse. Instead, these models (including the M2) will be based upon the modular CLAR architecture used beneath range-mates like the new RWD/AWD 3 Series, and an inline-six.
Keep an eye out soon for our first drive impressions of the new BMW 1 Series range, which will arrive in Australia is 118i FWD and M135i xDrive forms before year’s end.
MORE: 2020 BMW 1 Series revealed, coming to Oz Q4