By Stephen Dobie
BMW's hatch gets styling tweaks and new engines, plus a satnav that helps you save fuel. Via bossiness...
Facelift enthusiasts of the world: grab your anoraks and magnifying glasses, BMW's product updaters have been busy at work.
In all fairness to them, the updated 1-Series is a little easier to spot than quite a few other premium German facelifts we could mention.
That's probably because its styling was never the sharpest in its class, and that's where the updates are easiest to spot. The headlights look slimmer (they have a "significantly flatter geometry" in BMW-speak) and are far better integrated into the front-end. They optionally come as full LED units, too.
The rear, meanwhile, has larger taillights that give it a slightly more aggressive aesthetic. And aggression is what you may feel when a dinky debadged M135i has stormed past you at 155mph on the autobahn...
New engines join the range too, most notably three-cylinder units. A 108bhp 1.5-litre three-pot powers an entry-level 116i petrol model in European markets, though sadly not in the UK, where the range kicks off with a 134bhp four-cylinder 118i.
A 115bhp diesel - another 1.5-litre three-cylinder - is at the heart of the ultra-efficient 116d, which we do get. In its most prosaic spec, it tops 83mpg and emits 89g/km of CO2. If you really have to go diesel, though, the 221bhp 125d is the one to have; it'll complete 0-62mph in 6.3sec while emitting 121g/km of CO2.
You're reading Top Gear, though, so you want to know how the M135i hot hatch fares. And it's good news, its 3-litre six-cylinder turbo engine gaining an extra 5bhp, so it now matches its slinkier M235i sibling with 321bhp.
Specify the optional eight-speed paddleshift gearbox and it will hit 62mph in 4.9sec on its way to that de rigeur 155mph top speed. Stick with the standard six-speed manual and it will rev-match on downshifts.
One of the more interesting nuggets of tech nestled in the new 1-Series is its application of satnav data to increase efficiency. Pick the automatic gearbox and the car will change up or down gears depending on if the nav informs it of an upcoming roundabout, a string of corners or motorway slip road.
Pick a posher satnav system and the car will tell you when it might be good to lift off the throttle, to lessen the amount of braking needed for corners, roundabouts and the like. Depending on your viewpoint, it's either exceedingly clever, or pushy and Big Brother-like.
The updated BMW 1-Series will take its bow at the Geneva motor show in March, with sales following soon after. Prices start at £20,245 for that 118i, rising to around £31,000 for an M135i.