Compact BMW 1 Series a big addition to car maker's lineup
BMW claims (with good reason) to hold the rights to the beginning of the sports coupe phenomenon. By all intents, particularly if you listen to many driving enthusiasts, the car maker very well might - at least in the four-seat classification. Back in the late '60s, BMW's 2002 coupe made a big splash in the automotive world because it offered sporty, performance-oriented driving along with plenty of interior room - something sports cars of the time did not. With the introduction of the 1 Series coupe and convertible, the BMW group wants drivers and passengers alike to rediscover the melding of performance and comfort in a compact package. I tested the 1 Series coupe on the rural roads outside of Monterey, Calif., and yet again came away from the experience with admiration on the manner with which this German company approaches each new project.The 1 Series is available with two engine configurations: the 128 equipped with a 230 horsepower six-cylinder or the 135 featuring a 300 horsepower dual turbo V-6 that rocks. The engine offerings have their advantages and each offers excellent performance while remaining cognizant of the price of a gallon of gas. Though mindful of the luxury demanded of BMW vehicles, designers and engineers built a driver's car in the 1 Series. As they like to say, "the 1 Series has go-cart like handling and steering for the street." This is not far from the truth. Steering is precise with quick turn-in and a solid feel, quite evident as I negotiated tight mountain roads. Throughout the drive, the 1 Series cornered with little body roll. It is rock solid, instilling confidence in your drive. It seemed happiest zipping around corners; I know I was quite pleased. All BMW vehicles gain the advantage in handling and control through electronic- control systems. The same applies to the 1 Series. The aluminum double-pivot front, five-link rear suspension and electronic stability and traction control system make the car a delight to drive. There's a plethora of electronic entertainment features as well. Most are lost on me, as I would rather enjoy the drive listening to the gentle roar of the exhaust. Though I love music, there is something much more stimulating in lowering the windows of a fine motoring machine and cruising along the back country. I believe that is the spirit behind the 1 Series BMW.
Ron Moorhead, a nationally syndicated automotive columnist, can be reached at [email protected]