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Click to view picture galleryBoasting cutting-
  edge ‘Efficient-
  the sharp-suited new
  3-door BMW 1 Series
  is sure to clean up
  not just in CO2 terms,
  but on the sales
  front, too...”

WITH A RAFT of stringent EU emissions standards due in 2010, car manufacturers are developing new engine, transmission and bodywork technologies to meet these impending technological require-ments — three years is not long in car manufacturing terms.

In addition, by 2012 it is expected that the EU will require an average 130g/km CO2 limit across a brand's entire range, although at this stage manufacturers are still lobbying the powers-that-be on the exact levels they can realistically meet.

This week BMW UK wheeled out their new 1 Series three-door and revised 5 Series ranges, both encompassing their new Efficient-Dynamics technology.

BMW says their EfficientDynamics programme offers solutions for pro-viding increased power and performance but with improved economy and lower emissions. In addition to developing further their high per-formance direct injection petrol and diesel engines and raising the gear ratios in the transmissions, BMW is making increasing use of lightweight materials for panels and components. BMW are also pioneering emis-sion-free Hydrogen fuel usage with their 7 Series, although no legis-lation is yet in place for the public use of such fuel.

A beneficiary of BMW's EfficientDynamics programme is the new 3-door 1 Series. The original 1 Series was launched in five-door hatchback form in September 2004 and last year sold 22,033 in the UK. That is a noteworthy 19 per cent of all of BMW's UK sales.

The revised five-door 1-Series went on sale in March 2007 and now the three-door models have joined the range at prices ranging from £17,815 through to £23,225. Additional 116i models will be added
to the three-door line-up in September, with a starting price in the region of £15,900. Five-door models start at £16,390 and top out at £23,720. Both ranges have M Sport variants with petrol and diesel engine options.

BMW says that prices for the second-generation 1 Series five-door models have been increased by an average of 2.6 per cent but that there is over £900 worth of added-value in technology and specif-ication in the latest cars.

Oliver Parsons, BMW UK's product manager for 1-Series, said: "Sales
of the five-door 1-Series had been 53 per cent to business and fleet buyers with 60 per cent of them being male users. Many customers had been drawn from larger, volume selling D-segment models outside the BMW brand and had wanted a move to a premium C-segment product."

He added: "The introduction of the three-door models is likely to in-crease demand from private buyers attracted by the sports styling and a broader choice of frugal petrol and diesel engines. Sales of all 1 Series models in the UK this year should be around the 23,000 mark."

The likely best-selling three-door variants will be the forthcoming 116i petrol and current 118d diesel models, which will each account for 30 per cent of 1 Series sales.

Tim Abbott, BMW UK sales director, said: "The launch of a revised 1 Series with its new, EfficientDynamics-inspired drivetrain will see the Series maintain a market-leading position in terms of performance, economy and emissions. It's a bold claim but one which is backed up with figures. The average 12,000 mile-a-year driver of a new 1 Series can expect to save up to £250 off his fuel bill compared to the out-going model. Business users are similarly better off by more than £500 with a reduction in company car tax courtesy of lower CO2 emissions. All this in a vehicle with higher engine power output and better per-formance figures."

At the core of the revised BMW 1 Series drivetrain are Efficient-Dynamics technologies. Innovations such as Brake Energy Regener-ation, Auto Start-Stop and Electric Power Steering are combined
with lower rolling resistant tyres and an optimum gearshift indicator
to deliver economical motoring.

The Brake Energy Regeneration (iGR), which makes its debut on the 1 Series, uses an Intelligent Alternator Control and an Absorbent Glass Mat battery to recycle previously lost energy; in turn saving fuel. This is achieved as the IAC reduces drag on the engine by only engaging when required to charge the battery, whereas a traditional alternator
is always pulling power from the engine. Additionally, the energy gener-ated by the engine on over-run (under braking or descending a hill) was previously wasted. Now this lost energy is utilised by the IAC to charge the battery. Overall, iGR alone benefits fuel economy to the tune of a three per cent improvement.

The new 1 Series also comes with Automatic Start-Stop function to further cut fuel consumption. Standard on all manual transmission models (except the 130i), the system automatically switches the engine off when the vehicle is stationary and the driver puts the car into neutral. To restart, the driver only need engage the clutch again before pulling away in the normal manner. Should he/she not want to use the Automatic Start-Stop function, it can be manually switched off.

The use of Electric Power Steering results in a massive 90 per cent energy saving compared to a conventional mechanical hydraulic steer-ing system. Power assistance is now provided by an electric motor that works only when required, such as when turning a corner. Other fuel-saving enhancements have been made courtesy of various ancillary devices, such as the air-conditioning power supply being disconnected from the drivetrain when not in use. Even flaps behind the kidney grille improve economy by closing up for improved aerodynamic efficiency should the engine require less airflow, a feature which also improves cold starting times.

These innovations are in addition to the use of variable-valve tech-nologies and, for the first time on the 1 Series, high-precision direct injection engines on most petrol models that boost power output but, at the same time, cut fuel consumption and emissions.

BMW says the 118d is BMW's most economical car managing a record 60.1mpg. Aside from the BMW Hydrogen 7, the BMW 118d posts the lowest ever CO2 emissions of any BMW. Its 123g/km CO2 figure (down a commendable 18 per cent) puts it into the Band C (£115 per year) category for Vehicle Excise Duty.

Exasperatingly for BMW and its customers, that is a mere 3 g/km higher than needed to meet the Band B £35 road tax level, and puts it just outside the proposed London Congestion Charge exemption level of 120g/km. BMW says they are aware of this issue and working towards getting the 118d engine down to the 120g/km limit.

The BMW 1 Series three-door models add a new dimension to the range. The core styling is the same as the previous five-door but is now more refined, thanks to subtle changes all around the car.
The alterations to the kidney grille (larger for improved airflow to the engine) and whole refreshed front end make the car look lower.
The two wider passenger doors with frameless coupé-style windows impart the side elevation with a sleekly stretched sporting look.
Inside there has been a general upgrading of controls and trim mat-erials to improve the premium appeal. The folding/split rear seats and rear hatch make it a versatile newcomer.

For the record, customers can choose between either a four-seat or a five-seat configuration. In the four-seat arrangement, rear passengers are separated by a central storage compartment and sit in more sculp-tured seats. As a no-cost option, the five-seat layout offers the trad-itional bench seat that is standard on the five-door 1 Series.

But it is the technical aspects that EfficientDynamics bring to the new models that will appeal most. It is good to report that none are really intrusive and performance is not blunted or driving pleasure reduced. The automatic stop-start system works well: at traffic lights put the gearbox in neutral and the engine stops; put your foot on the clutch and the engines restarts. Simple.

The brake energy regeneration, electric power steering and low rolling resistance tyres all seem to work well 47mpg recorded for the 118d model with some swift driving on A and B class roads on my brief first drive.

The overall gearing is now quite 'tall' or 'high' in order to get the better fuel economy figures, so consequently more use has to be made of
the 6-speed manual gearbox; although happily the engine remains flex-ible enough. The 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel unit produces 141 bhp (up 21bhp) along with a hefty 221lb ft (up 15lb ft) of torque at 2,000rpm.

The resulting performance figures 130mph and 0-62mph covered
in 8.9 seconds and an official combined fuel consumption figure of 60.1mpg speak for themselves.

Its customers' safety is as important to BMW as the cutting-edge economy technology and all 1 Series models come with Dynamic Sta-bility Control with Dynamic Traction Control for the best combination of driving pleasure and safety. DSC allows drivers to make the most of the 1 Series' 50:50 weight distribution and rear-wheel drive configuration for the optimum on-road performance. In addition, all 1 Series models are fitted as standard with six airbags, the Brake Force Display function on the rear lights to highlight sharp braking and Run-flat tyres with a Tyre Puncture Warning System.

Looking at the new 1 Series' revised, more polished styling and taking into account the technological advancements, low taxation and low fuel costs, more than enough drivers will want to see one on their driveway to ensure that BMW UK easily reaches its 2007 sales targets. — David Miles

BMW 118d 3-door SE | £20,175
Maximum speed: 130mph | 0-62mph: 8.9 seconds
Overall test MPG: 47mpg | 141bhp | 221lb ft

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