BMW Is Building A Genuine Audi RS3 Rival

Spy Shots / Comments

Here's hoping it comes with the go to match the show.

The BMW 1 Series first arrived on the scene in the mid-2000s with the availability of a straight-six engine, a manual gearbox, and rear-wheel drive. This culminated in one of the greatest sports cars ever made with the legendary 1 M Coupe. Sadly, it has now become a FWD vehicle with the option of AWD and although the 1 Series is no longer sold in the US, its bad traits have been picked up by the 2 Series Coupe. Fortunately, this still offers a straight-six and isn't quite so dull, and while the latest 1 Series continues to offer tepid performance in its current F40 shape, new spy shots suggest that the facelifted model is turning into a real pocket rocket.

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We first got a look at the updated 1 Series last month, but it was a lower-spec model with no performance aspirations. Now, we have what appears to be one of two things: either the BMW M135i is being refreshed with the same sort of setup as before, or BMW is reviving the M140i moniker, suggesting a high-horsepower alternative to the likes of the 416-horsepower Mercedes-AMG A45 S and Audi RS3.

Whatever the case, the hatchback's design is certainly being updated as part of BMW's Life Cycle Impulse (LCI), otherwise known as a facelift. So what's changing?

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Inside, we're expecting BMW's latest iDrive 8 infotainment system along with a redesigned gear selector. As per the soon-to-be-revealed G87 BMW M2, the F40 is getting a squarer design for its front bumpers along with redesigned headlights. The taillights will also be getting new graphics as is BMW's custom, but it'll be a while yet before we get a glimpse of the production units. The most important change - and that which suggests a true RS3 rival - is the addition of a quad-exit exhaust system.

This is why we feel cautiously optimistic about a new variant with around or more than 400 hp, and since 2022 is BMW M's 50th anniversary year, anything is possible. Then again, the refreshed X1 M35i is also set to sport quad pipes going forward - unless this too is getting a performance upgrade and an M40i variant. We'll have to wait for an official comment out of Bavaria, but with celebrations set to kick off soon, we doubt the wait will be a long one.

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