Audi and Mercedes better watch out.
The only BMW 1 Series models we received in the US were the coupe and convertible ranging from the 128i up to the hardcore 1M before they were later replaced by the 2 Series. In Europe, BMW built a hatchback bodystyle of the 1 Series, which was uniquely rear-wheel-drive whereas most hot hatchbacks are front-wheel-drive. The most exciting 1 Series hatch was the M135i, which was powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six with 320 horsepower.
BMW is currently working on a new 1 Series hatchback but this one won't be RWD like the outgoing generation. Instead, it will be based on a FWD Mini architecture and likely have AWD as an option.
BMW already sells a FWD 1 Series sedan in China and Mexico but hasn't announced any plans to bring it stateside. This doesn't mean the 1 Series couldn't eventually arrive in the US in some form or another. Our spy photographer recently spotted what appears to be a camouflaged test mule for the sporty M135i hatchback. If we had to guess, we'd say this new M135i is powered by the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder found in the X2 M35i producing 302 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. In the X2, power is sent to an xDrive AWD system through an eight-speed automatic but the 1 Series could have a manual option.
Even though the four-cylinder produces less power than the old inline-six, it is capable of ripping off a 4.9-second 0-60 time using launch control in the X2, which is quicker than the old M135i. By using a FWD-based architecture, this new M135i will likely cost less than the outgoing car as well.
We doubt the M135i hatchback will make it to the US but we could see the same drivetrain in the rumored 2 Series Gran Coupe. Audi and Mercedes each sell sedans in this segment (the S3, A35, and CLA35) so it would make sense for BMW to offer something at the same price point.