2017 BMW 1 and 2 Series Launch Review

Updated BMW 1 and 2 Series arrive and we test drive them at Australian launch...

The BMW 1 Series hatch and 2 Series coupe/convertible range has received a fairly significant upgrade for 2017 and we got a sample of the new line-up at the updated models Australian launch.

Some of the best-selling models in the BMW range, both in Australia and overseas, the changes coming for 2017 include updated and improved four-cylinder and six-cylinder petrol engines and the new-generation of the iDrive infotainment/navigation system.

There are also new M-enhanced models as well, while there are no changes being introduced to the three-cylinder powered BMW 118i/118d at this stage.

Here’s a snap-shot of the different variants and what’s been changed:

  • BMW 120i Hatch - Added 5kW/20Nm to updated 2.0 litre four-cylinder engine for a new output of 135kW/270Nm
  • BMW 125i Hatch - Same updated engine as 120i Hatch but comes with M suspension/brakes and other enhancements
  • BMW M140i Hatch - Replaces the M135i and boasts the updated 3.0 litre six-cylinder engine that delivers an additional 10kW/50Nm  for a new 250kW/500Nm output
  • BMW 220i Coupe/Convertible - Now with updated 135kW/270Nm 2.0 litre four-cylinder engine
  • BMW 230i Coupe/Convertible - Replaces previous 228i and features the updated 135kW/270Nm 2.0 litre four-cylinder engine, along with M Sport Package
  • BMW M240i Coupe/Convertible - As with the M140i, the new flagship model replaces the M235i and comes with the tweaked 250kW/500Nm 3.0 litre six-cylinder engine

While those new flagship BMW M140i/240i models, the coupe in particular, are aimed at being a more relaxed and comfortable alternative to the brands popular, more track-focussed, M2 offering.

I got to have a drive of a number of the new/improved variants and was once again impressed by the feel and balance of this BMW model series.

Both on the road and on the track, the BMW product does a sterling job of combining both that famous ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ philosophy, and delivering a whole heap of fun and better than decent levels of comfort and features.

While an eight-speed auto is standard across the range, the no cost option of a six-speed manual transmission is certainly a temptation and after sampling both transmissions, if I was considering one of the sportier offerings, I would consider a manual transmission.

Where I was focused primarily however was the lower-spec model and I took a BMW 120i for an extended test drive.

Despite not having as many features as some of the more expensive offerings, this is still a very well-equipped and enjoyable car to drive.

The updated iDrive system is a particular highlight, it certainly seems to be faster in its operation than the previous generation software.

The updated graphics are also welcome, particularly when using the sat-nav. While the new home screen layout is a lot easier to use and more attractive.

Just the one real complaint though in the base model offering - the seat height adjustment.

It was the same issue that I found with the BMW i3 last week and that is that once you’re in the seat you can’t bring the seat-base height up.

You pull the lever and nothing happens!

If you lift all your weight out of seat (probably getting out of the car is the best idea), the seat-base suddenly springs back up at a 100mph!

Something that seems to be missing is speed sign info. A common feature in many other premium offerings, having access to speed sign info is a very handy feature with obvious safety benefits and it would be a nice addition here.

I’m always a bit disappointed too when Digital Radio isn’t included in all variants, that is the case here with the extra channels only available to the buyers of the M140i and the 230i/M240i.

Not a lot has changed inside the BMW 1 Series for 2017, though the updated iDrive system is welcome.

The updated 2.0 litre engine takes what was already a very good engine and just gives it that bit more life. For a base model offering the acceleration, braking and handling is well above what you might expect.

Thankfully it all comes with very reasonable fuel economy. The four-cylinder models using as little as just 5.8L/100km combined, the six-cylinder unit quoting 7.1L/100km.

Summing it up; If you have a lust for a new BMW then getting into one of the smaller models has never made more sense.

As I said, the four-cylinder, lower-spec models are a lot more fun than you might think and I feel the M140i/M240i make a very compelling case, especially if you think the M2 is just that bit too ‘hard edged’ to be your daily driver.

Excellent build quality, a stack of safety features and attractive looks make the 2017 BMW 1 Series/2 Series line-up a range of vehicles that are sure to continue to find a growing number of Australian car buyers, especially first-time BMW buyers.

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