For many cars a facelift is inevitable. Usually it’s not a big deal, most facelifts bring in a new bumper here and more alloy choices there. They’re not really something to get excited about unless it’s one of those rare instances where it actually makes a big (and better) difference.
The second generation 1-Series (F20) was a car that split opinion, to be fair as did the first generation (E87). However it wasn’t the pricing or the rear legroom that caused a stir. It was the face. Some likened the 1-Series’s face to that of the pigs from Angry Birds. To say the 1 wasn’t BMW’s best penned car would be an understatement. The rear was no better either, it just looked like the back of any other hatchback.
So, come mid-life facelift time, BMW took this opportunity to give some life into the smallest car in its lineup. You know what, I think it’s worked. BMW’s recent cars have been getting better looking, the 2-Series is perhaps one of my favourite looking BMWs ever. There’s a lot of 2 in the design of the new 1, which is no bad thing. The sleek new headlights has turned what was once a pig into something a lot easier on the eye. Along with wider kidney grilles the front looks every bit as athletic as a BMW should. Round the back it’s more recognisably BMW with extended taillights.
Inside changes are more subtle, the big news are the extra tech BMW has thrown at it. There’s a new 6.5-inch display, a revised iDrive system, auto park assist, and Active Cruise Control to name a few.
As well as new looks and new tech, the 1-Series also gains more engine choices thanks to the 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol and turbo diesel engines from the Mini. The rest of the engine range also benefits from increased efficiency and slightly more power. Transmission choice remains the same, with either a 6-speed manual or a 8-speed ZF auto.
Now that the 1-Series is easier on the eye, more powerful, more efficient, and with more tech, does it make for a tempting proposition? Let me put it in another way; two letters three numbers, M135i. How does a small, rear-wheel drive, hatchback with 330bhp and the availability of a manual gearbox sound? To top it all off it’s now pretty damn good looking too. Quite the package.