OVER the last 30 plus years I have attended many launches of new BMW models and it has always been clear that their designers in Munich believe in evolution and gradual change rather than drastic changes writes Bryan Longworth.
This is a good policy because anything too drastic could result in customers disliking the changes and looking elsewhere for their new car as did happen some time ago with another leading manufacturer.
So it is not really surprising that the all new second generation BMW 1 Series does not look all that different from the previous model to many punters out there on the streets.
Of course there are many changes with the new small Beemer being larger with more rear legroom and the front styling looks more appealing giving the new car even more street appeal.
And of course the new car retains rear wheel drive which is unique in this sector and helps to provide a very enjoyable driving experience apart from when there is snow on the roads and then things can become a bit difficult.
My test car was the 116i Sport five door costing £21,305 with a 1.6-litre 136bhp petrol engine with the fuel saving stop-start facility that produces a top speed of 130mph, a zero to 62mph time of 8.5 seconds and a combined fuel consumption of 49.6mpg.
It had some optional kit on board including cruise control and park distance control but the one feature that really impressed me was the welcome lighting whereby small lights under each of the four exterior door handles were very useful on dark nights for locating the door openers.
The latest 1 Series car with its run flat tyres quickly created a favourable impression because there is an immediate feel good factor as with all BMW models with a nice interior and excellent instrumentation which looks very effective especially at night.
I found the engine to be deceptively lively and with the slick six speed manual gearbox it proved to be quite a lively performer with traditional BMW steering and road holding qualities.
The extra rear leg room is a bonus for passengers with easy access to the back seats and the rear load area is quite spacious with a useful net to cover smaller items preventing them sliding about.
I found just two small niggles. The seat belt fastener at the side of the driver’s seat was rather difficult to locate and the engine start/stop control was hidden behind the winker stalk.
Otherwise the latest 1 Series car which was the first premium compact car provided an enjoyable test period and evoked memories of the various BMW cars I have driven over the years that have been some of my favourite motors.
My Verdict: A compact premium car that will impress the neighbours.
Model: New BMW 1 Series 116i Sport.
Engine: 1.6-litre four cylinder petrol.
Transmission: Six speed manual.
Top speed: 130mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 8.5 seconds.
Fuel consumption: Combined 49.6mpg.
CO2 emissions: 132g/km.