While Mercedes-Benz is currently dominating the local premium hatchback market with their attractive new A-Class, BMW very recently came crashing their party with the arrival of the new 1-Series! BMW should be well aware by now that the exterior design will not be the 1-Series main-selling-point, and will be using a different strategy, offering more affordable variants & more performance for the money.
BMW Malaysia very recently held a launch event for the 1-Series in Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC), with a total of four 1-Series models on display, albeit under wraps when I arrived there. Unsurprisingly, the venue itself is very modern yet almost club-like furnished, totally in-line with the young or young-at-heart who would purchase a car like the 1-Series…or even an A-Class for that matter.
Wraps off, and the 1-Series is revealed in its full glory! Not that we don’t know how it looks like as it was globally revealed over two years ago. Plus, Malaysians get to have a good look at it not too long ago when it was displayed at the BMW Shorties event outside of Majestic Hotel.
There is no doubt that the 1-Series’ exterior design divides opinion, and it is definitely one of those love-it-or-hate-it designs. I personally do not detest it, in fact given enough time, its controversial design just might grow on me. Only time will tell if this design will age well.
Some may dislike its looks but then again the driver will be spending most of his/her time inside anyway. First impression when you sit in the driver’s seat is that you will know it was designed to be a drivers’ car. Seats are supportive with decent side bolstering to keep you in place during hard cornering, the dashboard is slightly biased facing the driver, and steering wheel feels just right.
BMW i3 aside, the 1-Series is BMW’s smallest production model on-sale today. It should come as no surprise then, that the interior space is cosy at best for full-sized adults. Once inside, I have only inches of headroom to spare, not ideal especially if the car rides stiffly and bumpy where my head will get some decent bashing.
With the 1-Series designed with drivers in mind, all 1-Series are of course rear-wheel driven. Good for sheer driving pleasure, not so good for rear passengers. RWD meant a huge and intrusive transmission tunnel can be found in the rear cabin making it unpleasant for the 5th passenger in the middle. But hey, at least there are rear air-con vents (A-Class doesn’t).
A total of five different 1-Series variants will be offered here locally. You can see more information in the comparison table below including the A-Class:
|BMW 116i||Turbocharged 1.6 liter||136 hp||220 Nm||RM 170,800|
|BMW 118i Sport||Turbocharged 1.6 liter||170 hp||250 Nm||RM 190,800|
|BMW 118i Urban||Turbocharged 1.6 liter||170 hp||250 Nm||RM 190,800|
|BMW 125i Sport||Turbocharged 2.0 liter||218 hp||310 Nm||RM 238,800|
|BMW 125i M-Sport||Turbocharged 2.0 liter||218 hp||310 Nm||RM 253,800|
|Mercedes A200||Turbocharged 1.6 liter||156 hp||250 Nm||RM 198,888|
|Mercedes A250||Turbocharged 2.0 liter||211 hp||350 Nm||RM 238,888|
Only the 125i variant will be fully imported, while the others will be locally assembled. Both A-Class variants are fully imported. As you can see, both price & performance-wise they are pretty closely matched. The only advantages are that BMW offers a more affordable 116i to make the 1-Series more attainable, and the 118i undercuts the A200 price by a substantial eight thousand.
The white 1-Series you see above came equipped with the full M-Performance kit which includes a more aggressive body kit, larger wheels, upgraded brakes etc. I won’t be surprised if that will cost you close to 300k if not more. Nevertheless, the 1-Series somehow looks better to me in this guise.
Sadly however, in this premium hatchback market where its younger or young-at-heart customer base dominates majority of the sales, looks really does matter and I won’t be surprised that people are willing to pay more for the better-looking A-Class with that three-pointed-star.
However, if you are not brand conscious and you want more bang for your buck, the Golf GTi and Ford Focus ST springs to mind. Both offering more power & practicality for less money. But that’s just me, what will you rather spend your money on for this kind of money? Share your answers in the poll below!