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BMW set to expand 1 Series range

Boosted: A hot version of the BMW 1 Series hatch is planned, employing the brand's high-tech new N20 TwinPower four-cylinder engine.

More models in the pipeline for new 1 Series as BMW goes for broader appeal

12 Oct 2011

BMW Australia is planning for more 1 Series variants than ever as it rolls out the second generation of the five-door hatch that will include a high-performance version powered by the all-new 2.0-litre turbocharged engine about to appear in Australia in the Z4 sportscar and 5 Series sedan.

The German marque says the hot hatch will have more power than its targeted rival, the Golf GTI, which has 155kW in standard form but 173kW in limited-edition 35th anniversary Golf GTI guise.

In the four-cylinder Z4 and upcoming 5 Series that are both scheduled to arrive in November, the latest BMW four-cylinder N20 engine comes in two states of tune – 135kW and 180kW.

The more potent of the two engines propels the Z4 sDrive28i from zero to 100km/h in 5.7 seconds, indicating the lighter 1 Series could comfortably account for the 2.0-litre Golf that does the sprint in 6.9 seconds.

14 center imageLeft: BMW Group Australia managing director Phil Horton. Below: BMW Z4.

BMW Group Australia managing director Phil Horton told GoAuto at this week’s 1 Series hatch media launch in Melbourne that the 1 Series range would get more variants this time around, as would the next 3 Series that he confirmed would arrive in Australia about March next year.

He hinted the extension of the 1 Series range would also include body styles beyond the current three – the new five-door hatch and the recently facelifted coupe and convertible that were introduced in Australia in 2008.

“The 3 Series used to be just the saloon, then we introduced the Touring, the convertible and the coupe, so that the 3 Series segment is now four cars, and if you include maybe the X3 it becomes five cars,” he said.

“In future there will be more models in 3 Series as well, like there will be more models in 1 Series.”

BMW Australia this week replaced the 1 Series hatch with an all-new, bigger body and matching new 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine and eight-speed automatic transmission, among other changes.

The larger, 2.0-litre version of that TwinPower engine is expected to be applied widely in the BMW range in a variety of tunes, extending from the Z4 and 5 Series to the 1 Series and then 3 Series when the latter is launched at the Detroit motor show in January.

The 2.0-litre TwinPower-driven 1 Series hatch is expected to land in Australia within 12 months, bringing the range to four, on top of the launch models – 116i, 118i and 118d.

The sports version is likely to be keenly priced, as BMW’s policy with the new range is to keep the price points reasonably close.

The current range-topper for the latest line-up is the $43,500 diesel 118d, or $46,193 with the eight-speed automatic.

The five-door version of the Golf GTI is $40,490, although BMW might be expected to charge a premium over that, while the top Golf, the 188kW AWD Golf R, is priced at a tick under $50,000 (plus on roads).

The 1 Series’ long snout would indicate room for a turbo six, but BMW insiders say the car has been built around the turbo fours and, if it happens, it will be some time away.

The 1 Series coupe and convertible offer turbo 3.0-litre inline sixes in two varieties, 135i's 225kW of power and 400Nm of torque and the coupe flagship 1M's 250kW/450Nm.

An all-new 1 Series coupe and convertible are some years away – perhaps 2014 – as they are about three or fours years out of sync with the hatch.

If BMW does add new body styles to the 1 Series, an obvious contender is a sedan for the world’s two biggest markets – China and the United States. Both of those markets favour sedans and, with China now a critical cog in the BMW wheel as it plays catch-up with rival Audi in that market, it is a distinct possibility.

BMW is opening a new design studio in China, which also will be one of the main target markets for BMW electric vehicles and an all-new sub-1 Series front-wheel drive city runabout that will be the main beneficiary of an new three-cylinder engine range under development in Munich.

Mr Horton said BMW was still unsure about the take-up of EVs, but the company was making sure it was ready for the eventuality.

“All you need is one of the markets like China, which is now the biggest in the world, to decide you have to be electric or you have to have 25 per cent of your volume electric, then it will be electric,” he said. “And that will drive the market so hard.”

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