Front wheel drive or rear wheel drive? The debate has been on for ages now and its clear that if you are a keen driver, RWD suits you. RWD is certainly more fun than FWD plus with RWD you have near 50/50 weight distribution which means you have a better handling car and the one with better balance. The BMW 1 Series is RWD. That alone earns its some serious brownie points as a drivers car but there is more to the 1 series than that. Let me explain.
First of all more than a RWD hatch the concept of luxury hatches has been alien to us but if you ask us luxury hatches make more sense in our crowded urban jungles. The BMW 1 Series pampers you just like any other BMW, it drives as well infact better than some other BMWs but it is the most affordable with a starting price of Rs 20.9 lakh. Sounds like a good deal eh?
It even looks good with the traditional BMW styling details being moulded into a hatch. Though it is a hatchback it is not very small being roughly the length of a midsize sedan. The BMW 1 series has a length of 4324mm, width of 1765mm and height of 1421mm. As said before you cannot mistake it for anything else with the kidney grille, long hood and those stunning xenon headlights with LEDs.
The side has the characteristic 'Hofmeister kink' while the rear with L-shaped LEDs rounds off the package. We were driving the top of the line Sport Plus with added details like the goregous 17 inch alloys which are just right for the car. Build quality as usual is fabulous.
Step inside and its the usual BMW fare of high quality but a simple driver focussed cabin. We like. The design is simple and you sense that this car is built to drive and not poke around the cabin. Though you can do that with the various gadgets on offer. As said earlier we had the top of the line version and thus BMW has thrown the kitchen sink at it.
There is the intuitive iDrive with the 16.5cm colour display, multifunction steering, HiFi system etc. Special menntion must go to the superb sports seats. Despite being RWD the 1 series has a decent boot of 360 litres (with the back seats in place). Space at the rear is strictly limited for two though.
But then why would you be sitting at the back when there is the fabulous chassis for you to enjoy. As said earlier with near 50/50 weight distribution, RWD layout and a superb 8-speed AT, this is a car made for attacking corners. The handling is brilliant with razor sharp responses and excellent body control.
There are 4 modes to choose from but you need to keep it in Sport and Sport+ to unleash the full potential. With DSC off this car was a heap of fun and I could not stop throwing it around. This is a car that after you thrash it comes back and asks for more. Rude not to oblidge then.
However even in a staright line it feels fast. We have the diesel with 140 bhp and 320Nm of torque. In EcoPro mode it feels sleepy and the gearbox just wants to upshift as quickly as possible. In Sport/Sport+ the revs go higher and then it feels quite fast. Again thanks to the gearbox turbolag is zero.
As you might gather we quite like the 1 Series because it is so much fun and thanks to its compact size, so much more useable. The 118dSport Plus seen here is priced at Rs 29.9 lakh (ex-showroom) but the one that is the best value is the 118d Sport Line at 25.9 lakh. There is a petrol too but we would stick with the diesel. In the end this is a car to enjoy from behind the steering wheel and without a doubt the drivers choice at the price point. Business as usual for BMW then..
Words- Somnath Chatterjee Photography- Rajeev Bhendwal