2008 BMW 1 Series Preview

FAST FACTS
  • New entry-level BMW model draws inspiration from classic 2002
  • Coupe and convertible bodystyle at introduction, with rear-wheel drive
  • 128i and 135i models available
  • 128i gets 230 hp inline 6-cylinder engine
  • 135i gets 300 hp twin-turbo inline 6-cylinder engine
  • BMW says the 135i coupe goes 0-60 mph in about 5.2 seconds
  • iDrive is included only with optional navigation system
  • Stability and traction control can be shut completely off
  • USB port supports Apple iPod and iPhone
  • North American sales start in spring of 2008


Introduction

At the same time American pony cars bloated up to 2-ton curb weights and mine-is-bigger-than-yours Detroit horsepower wars were wreaking havoc on insurance premiums, American car enthusiasts were falling in love with the BMW 2002. Lightweight and equipped with responsive German road manners, the tiny three-box Bimmer offered a deft and delightful blend of power, ride and handling _ enough to cement the 2002 as an icon in its own right. It is on this tradition that the new 2008 BMW 1 Series aims to build a following.

Model Lineup

When the BMW 1 Series coupe and convertible go on sale in the spring of 2008, two models will be available: the 128i and the 135i (delayed introduction for the convertible 135i). The primary difference between the two cars is under the hood. The 128i is equipped with a 3.0L inline 6-cylinder engine making 230 hp while the 135i is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0L inline 6-cylinder engine making 300 hp.

Coupe models feature classic design cues such as the "Hofmeister kink" at the rear roof pillar and L-shaped taillights, combined with emerging stylistic treatments such as flame-surfaced convex and concave sheetmetal details and twin corona rings for daytime driving lights. Inside, leatherette is standard, genuine leather is optional, and BMW uses galvanized pearl gloss surfaces for the cabin trim.

The convertible models are equipped with an electro-hydraulic softtop that can be raised or lowered in a mere 22 seconds-at speeds up to 25 mph. Available with a black or taupe colored cloth roof, the convertible also features a specialized climate control with a convertible mode allowing the system to react more effectively to top down driving conditions. Turbulence in the cabin is kept low with an available wind deflector. Trunk space, even with the top down, is generous enough to stow two golf bags.

Features such as Adaptive Brake lights, a 60/40 split folding rear seat, an auxiliary input jack for MP3 players, a USB port for Apple iPods and iPhones, and BMW's Ultimate Service program come standard on the 1 Series models. Additionally, the 135i receives an M Aerodynamic Kit with a functional lip spoiler, Adaptive Xenon headlights with integrated Cornering Lights, and a stability control system designed specifically for performance driving. Also standard on the 135i is a Sports Suspension with 18-inch wheels and tires and high-performance brakes with upgraded brake cooling. An optional Sports Package adds sports bucket seats with enhanced side support to either model.

Hardware

Unusual in a small car but like every other BMW on the market, the 1 Series is powered by a front-mounted engine driving the rear wheels because the German automaker says this layout "guarantees optimum traction, good weight distribution, excellent directional stability, and predictable handling." Taken from the BMW 328i, the 128i's 230 hp, 3.0L inline 6-cylinder engine makes 200 lb.-ft. of torque. The more powerful 135i is equipped with the same twin-turbo, direct-injected engine found in the larger and heavier 335i, producing 300 hp and 300 lb.-ft. of torque from as low as 1,400 rpm. This means that the bulk of the 135i's motivational force is accessible shortly after the car accelerates from a standstill. BMW's performance figures reflect the impact this engine has on acceleration: about 5.2 seconds from 0 to 60 mph on the way to a top speed of 155 mph.

The BMW 1 Series models have independent suspension all around, with an aluminum double-pivot design in front and a lightweight steel five-link arrangement in back. Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) is standard, and both systems can be completely shut off if the driver prefers. On the BMW 128i, the DSC is designed to provide a wider handling envelope than most cars, activating later to allow the driver to toss the vehicle around a bit. On the BMW 135i, the DSC is specifically tuned for performance driving with a quicker response rate for the acceleration pedal and an electronic rear brake management program that simulates a differential lock for stronger acceleration in turns. BMW also offers Active Steering as an option on both 1 Series models. Active Steering is a variable ratio steering system that turns the front wheels faster at low speeds and slower at high speeds for improved maneuverability and stability.

Safety

BMW equips the 2008 1 Series coupe with six standard air bags: two in front, two side impact air bags, and side curtain air bags that protect occupants in the front and rear seats. The convertible models feature four standard air bags, and a special sensor designed to automatically deploy two roll bars in the event of an imminent roll-over. Additionally, each of the seating positions is equipped with inertia-reel three-point seat belts, and the rear seat has LATCH attachments for child safety seats. BMW also says that the front seats are "crash optimized" with specially-padded head restraints and backrests to reduce injury in a rear impact, and that the driver's pedals are designed to deform and move back to reduce the chance of foot injury.

Added peace-of-mind might be found in the optional BMW Assist feature, which is available as part of the Premium Package or as a stand-alone option. Including four years of service, BMW Assist uses GPS technology and hands-free communication to automatically notify rescue personnel in the event of a serious accident. BMW Assist can also help the driver contact roadside assistance crews, unlock the doors in the event the keys are not available, and track the vehicle if it is stolen. For an additional $199 annual cost a concierge service is also offered, including assistance with travel planning, reservations, event tickets, traffic and weather updates, and driving directions.

Technology

Audiophiles may be pleased to discover a wide range of sound system options for the 2008 BMW 1 Series. There's a premium sound system, SIRIUS satellite radio, and HD radio from which to select, as well as a standard auxiliary input jack to use with an MP3 music player. Furthermore, the 1 Series can be outfitted with an optional USB port that is compatible with Apple iPod and iPhone devices.

Order the optional navigation system and the 1 Series is equipped with iDrive, a dash-mounted screen operated using a single mouse-like controller mounted on the center console between the seats. Critically panned, this latest version of iDrive includes six Programmable Memory Keys that allow the driver to program frequently used iDrive functions to make them easier to access and execute, such as radio stations, navigation destinations, or entries in the onboard address book.