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BMW has introduced the new, fourth generation of the first series hatchback. However, despite the new factory index F70, we are essentially looking at a deep restyling of the previous model. In the process, it acquired a very controversial new appearance and lost both the manual gearbox and the hydromechanical automatic. And it’s really hard to believe that the flagship version of the M135 has become… slower!

The trained eye of a BMW lover will easily notice that the body of the new “unit” remains fundamentally the same: not only the shape of the doorways is preserved, but also the doors themselves from the 2019 F40 model. It is not surprising that the dimensions of the hatchback have remained almost unchanged: the wheelbase is the same (2670 mm), the length has increased purely symbolically, by 42 millimeters (4361 mm). At the same time, the body has been reinforced, which promises increased rigidity.

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The main change in appearance is the completely redesigned front part: the upper edge of the front end has become noticeably lower, and in the “nostrils” of the radiator grille the bars are now not only vertical, but also diagonal – we have never seen anything like this on a BMW! But judging by the photographs of the new BMW X3 crossover, from now on this will become part of the corporate identity.

Model F40, 2019
BMW Group Australia Model F70, 2024
BMW Group

On this matter, opinions in our editorial office at Motor are divided. Optimists saw in the new design motifs of the BMW Z4 roadster mixed with features of the BMW XM crossover. And the pessimists, of whom it turned out to be the majority, saw in the “unit” a much less honorable similarity – with the third-generation Kia Ceed, the fourth-generation Ford Focus, and even with the Skoda Octavia. Moreover, this is especially striking with the optional radiator grille without chrome trim. However, we admit: the appearance of the previous “unit” was also not a triumph of design.

The scale of the “plastic surgery” on the rear part turned out to be quite large: the lights of a different shape required not only a new bumper, but also new hardware for the rear wings. But the fifth door was preserved unchanged!
BMW Group

I wonder what former BMW chief designer Frank Stephenson will say about this? We remember how the author of the first BMW X5 blasted the design of the BMW XM crossover on his YouTube channel! He also criticized BMW’s new “seven”, although not so harshly.

The press release even mentions “typical BMW proportions” – a long hood and a rear-set passenger compartment. Yes, this is exactly what the first two generations of “ones” were like, built on a shortened rear-wheel drive chassis of the third series. But here there is nothing like that: the proportions clearly show the front-wheel drive layout with a transverse engine, to which the “one” was transferred in 2019. Let us remind you that the car is based on the UKL2 platform, common with the current Mini Countryman.

On the subject of typical BMW proportions: the new 1 Series hatchback (F70, 2024)…
BMW Group Rear-wheel drive five-door of the second generation (F20, 2011)
BMW Group The very first “one” model of 2004 (F20)
BMW Group

Along with the restyling, the choice of power units was radically reduced: instead of eight engines, four were left – a couple of gasoline ones, a couple of diesel ones. And from now on, all cars will receive a seven-speed “robot” from Magna with two clutches. This means that on basic cars the opportunity to order a manual transmission has disappeared, and on powerful versions the “robot” has replaced the proven Aisin hydromechanical automatic transmission with eight stages.

The BMW 120 remained the only mainstream model with a gasoline engine: now, besides it, there is only the M135 sports car. Moreover, the “one hundred and twentieth” experienced a clear index inflation: under the hood, instead of a two-liter four-cylinder engine, there is a 1.5-liter B38 “three”, which was previously used on entry-level models (116i and 118i). However, it was boosted to 170 hp. and 280 Nm, so the power loss is minimal (-6 hp). And yet the dynamics have worsened: acceleration to 100 km/h takes 7.8 seconds (+0.7 s).

This illustration clearly shows the external differences between the basic “unit” (left) and the car with the M package – different bumpers and sills, the M body kit has an imitation of an aerodynamic diffuser at the rear
BMW Group

By the way, please note: starting with “one”, BMW abandons the letter “i” when designating gasoline models. Now cars with gasoline engines only have a three-digit index without a letter prefix.

The all-wheel drive top version of the M135, of course, retained the two-liter B48 turbo engine, but it lost much of its output – the power decreased slightly (from 306 to 300 hp), but the maximum torque decreased from 450 to 400 Nm. And the introduction of a “robot” box is to blame: even in the reinforced version of the 7DCT400, it is designed for an input torque of no more than 400 Nm. As a result, the acceleration time to “hundreds” increased from 4.7 to 4.9 s. Top speed remains limited to 250 km/h.

In fact, the bumpers on the BMW M135 are exactly the same as on regular “ones” with the M package. And the main difference when viewed from the front is the radiator grille with horizontal bars
BMW Group Another difference is its own mirrors with a second “false leg”, familiar to us from other M-models
BMW Group At the rear, the M135 can be unmistakably identified by two pairs of exhaust pipes: the remaining modifications have an exhaust pipe only on the left.
BMW Group BMW M135 is equipped with adaptive suspension as standard
BMW Group

Externally, the M version is easily recognizable by its aggressive body kit and 18-inch wheels. And for an additional fee, the M Technology package is offered with a stiffer suspension, compound disc brakes and 19-inch forged wheels.

As for diesels, the initial three-cylinder B37 engine has been retired. From now on, only the four-cylinder diesel B47 is offered in two boost variants – 118d with one turbine (150 hp, 360 Nm) and 120d with two turbines (163 hp, 400 Nm). They also have a “robot” instead of a machine gun. Such hatchbacks reach 100 km/h in 8.3 and 7.9 seconds, respectively.

On the 120d and 120 models, the internal combustion engine is helped by a small hybrid “add-on” in the form of a 48-volt starter-generator. But the younger version 118d and the top-end Emka M135 do without it.

Basic interior design. The “aluminum” inserts on the front panel are illuminated from the inside. By the way, leather trim is generally not offered for the sake of trends.
BMW Group During the deep restyling, the “unit” received new seats. Shown here are the optional sports seats with Econeer Bicolor Blau upholstery made from recycled polyester.
BMW Group Interior with M-package: three-color decorative stitching on the instrument panel, the same lighting and a steering wheel almost like an Emka’s, with steering wheel paddles
BMW Group Seat upholstery in the M package is made of Alcantara and eco-leather, with colored stitching
BMW Group New transmission selector – in the form of a large rocker button
BMW Group

The hatchback chassis underwent minor modifications: the kinematics of the suspensions were optimized – for example, the castor of the front wheels was increased by 20%), which increased directional stability and improved the reactive action on the steering wheel. For regular, non-M models, an adaptive suspension with a ground clearance reduced by 8 millimeters and 18-inch wheels is available as an option. You can also choose 19-inch wheels along with reinforced brakes.

The interior of the “unit” has been completely redone – no stone has been left unturned from the previous design. Now on the front panel there is a single block of screens without a visor, like in older models, combining the instrument panel (10.25 inches) and the media system display (10.7 inches). The latter runs on the BMW OS 9 operating system based on Android and supports the installation of third-party applications. Let us recall that it first appeared in November 2023 on the second generation Active Tourer minivan (U06) and on the third generation BMW X1 crossover (U11).

The top version of the BMW M135 has a front panel with three-color stitching and its own steering wheel (with a zero mark at the top and enlarged steering wheel paddles)
BMW Group M-chairs with a high backrest are trimmed with eco-leather on the edges and Alcantara in the middle
BMW Group The BMW M135 version has its own virtual instrument panel graphics
BMW Group

The number of physical buttons and knobs inside has been reduced to a minimum. The central ventilation deflectors have been replaced by a single wide air duct. And the side air ducts, as if lined diagonally, are reminiscent of the interior of the large BMW XM crossover. Instead of the usual non-locking transmission selector, a tiny trigger is installed on the tunnel between the seats. The box control panel itself, like the new steering wheel, is borrowed from the cross-platform BMW X1 crossover (U11) and the Active Tourer minivan (U06).

BMW hatchbacks of the first series, as before, will be produced at the Leipzig plant. Prices in Germany have already been announced: the base BMW 120 starts at 37,900 euros, for the BMW M135 xDrive the starting price is 56,200 euros.

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