BMW’s plan for utter domination of the user-chooser market, part three – the launch of the 1 Series Coupé.
Not content with revising the existing five-door model and introducing a sportier three-door hatchback, BMW has now added a two-door Coupé.
However, this is a rather grandiose title as the Coupé is really a saloon. Never mind, it brings yet another dimension to BMW’s smallest model line.
And the 1 Series family will grow further next spring with the launch of a Convertible model and possibly a high-performance version as previewed by the Concept tii revealed at last week’s Tokyo Motor Show.
But for now we have the Coupé, on sale now with prices ranging from £21,585 to £29,745. This represents a £700 premium over the five-door and sets the Coupé as the range-topping version, aiming to attract ever younger drivers to the brand and also positioning it as a halo model for the rest of the range.
What the Coupé also does is fill in the gap between the 1 Series and the recently-launched 3 Series Coupé. BMW admits that the price of the new 3 Series Coupé has deterred potential buyers from making the “price walk” up to it. So the 1 Series Coupé will fill the gap.
Next year BMW expects to sell around 3,500 Coupés, with the entry-level 120d taking around 45% of sales.
Buyers also have the choice of a new diesel – the twin-turbocharged 123d offering 204bhp, and the twin-turbo petrol 135i with 306bhp.
Last year BMW sold just over 22,000 1 Series in the UK, all of which were when it was a single five-door offering, while it expects to sell around 8,600 three-door hatches this year.
The sales expectations for next year show that the Coupé will be marketed very much as an exclusive version of the range.
While the Coupé moniker may be something of a misnomer, it does look substantially different from the hatchback models from the back and side.
At the front and inside it is pure 1 Series, which is fine as the model’s recent material quality upgrade has made the cabin a far nicer place to spend time in.
Based on the five-door’s platform, the Coupé has a body which is 13cm longer and fractionally wider.
The main gain is in boot space – up from the hatch’s 350 litres to 370.
The rear seats remain a tight fit for anyone over 5ft tall.
However, this shouldn’t worry the target market – young professionals with no kids embarking on their first few steps up the executive ladder.
As you would expect from a new BMW, the fuel-saving EfficientDynamics technology is fitted as standard, bringing exceptional levels of fuel economy and CO2 emissions to the party.
The 120d will return nearly 60mpg and emit just 128g/km. Even the performance 123d comes in at under 140g/km.
Three trims levels will be offered – ES, SE and M Sport.
Behind the wheel
Sit behind the wheel of the Coupé and you could be in any other 1 Series, with the neat centre console and chunky three-spoke steering wheel facing you.
It’s only when you glance over your shoulder that you appreciate a cosier cabin with a lower roofline.
No 120d models were available to test, but previous experience in the hatchback version suggests that BMW is right to expect this model to take the lion’s share of sales.
With its blend of performance and frugality it ticks every box for a fleet manager and driver.
The real star of the line-up is the 123d though – the first time this engine has appeared in a BMW model.
Based on the 120d unit, it features twin turbochargers to boost power from 177bhp to 204.
The result is an awesome engine, being both refined at speed yet with a real surge of power from as little as 2,000rpm.
It is noticeably quicker than the 120d and, although BMW won’t commit to an answer, it would be criminal if this unit didn’t find its way into the 3 Series, and possibly 5 Series.
The range-topping 135i is stunning. With 306bhp it offers forceful acceleration yet delivers the power in the creamy smooth way that only a straight-six BMW engine can.
Both models handle as you would expect a 1 Series to, thanks to rear-wheel drive and a focus on even weight distribution.
User-choosers will no doubt flock to get into the Coupé, and you can hardly blame them. It’s a fantastic car, especially in 123d guise.
The Coupe adds another dimension to the 1 Series family. It looks good and drives even better, especially in its 123d guise.
|Max power (bhp/rpm):||177/4,000||204/4,400||306/5,800|
|Max torque (lb-ft/rpm):||258/1,750||295/2,000||295/1,300|
|Max speed (mph):||142||148||155|
|Fuel consumption (mpg):||58.9||54.3||34.9|
|CO2 emissions (g/km):||128||138||192|