Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

BMW's Bonny Baby

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

BMW's Bonny Baby

Article excerpt

Byline: By David Whinyates

The wraps have at last been lifted from what is arguably the most important new prestige car of the early part of the 21st Century.

It's confirmation of BMW's impending arrival in the compact hatchback market.

First official pictures of the all-new BMW 1 Series reveal a low-slung, ground-hugging, athletic-looking five door hatch with more than a hint of the latest Z4 sports car about the flanks.

Bearing all the hallmarks of controversial BMW design chief, Chris Bangle, the wheel at each corner design cloaks a traditional BMW drive train with power going to the back wheels.

It's the only car in its class to boast rear wheel drive - a unique feature in this sector which BMW believes will have enthusiasts hammering on dealers' doors well before the new car goes on sale in the autumn at prices which could start at less than pounds 16,000.

It will be more expensive than the latest Audi A3, currently the hot choice in this segment of the market. Along with the cheaper Alfa Romeo 147.

BMW is confident the traditional drive train plus the presence of that high-value, blue and white roundel will be enough to persuade punters to part with the extra money and knock the front wheel drive Audi off its perch.

On its own turf particularly, the new baby Beemer will be targeting the all-conquering VW Golf, Germany's best selling car for years.

Those who had hoped the 1 Series would bring BMW ownership within reach of a wider audience will be disappointed, however. Although final pricing has yet to be fixed, the new five door is likely to be at least as much as and probably more expensive, model-for-model, than the current 3 Series Compact range. That range will continue to sell alongside the new 1 Series - at least until the next generation 3 Series arrives - with BMW believing there is room for both three and five door hatchbacks at the bottom end of the premium market.

It will be the first BMW range in recent times not to be launched with a six cylinder engine. Initial choice will be restricted to a quartet of four cylinder power plants - two petrol plus a pair of two-litre diesels rated at 122 and 163bhp.

The fastest car in the launch line up will be the oil-burning 120d which will rocket from rest to 62mph in a mere 7. …

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