2015 BMW 1 Series Facelift Tested: The Joys of Rear-Wheel Drive!

2015 BMW 1 Series LCI 1 photo
Photo: Florin Profir
It’s truly a wonderful time to be alive as a petrolhead. That’s because these days we have cars like the 2015 BMW 1 Series Facelift to enjoy and review. Why is that such a great joy? Because this is one hatchback that has the rear-wheel drive at its disposal, a rarity if you will.
And you should enjoy it while it lasts as we know for a fact that the future BMW 1 Series will migrate to a front-wheel drive layout, using the UKL platform, the same one the Germans are employing to build the new MINIs and 2 Series Active Tourer models amongst others.

Therefore, we just entered the last three years of production for the current 1 Series range and they will be filled with joy. Of course, being the only RWD specimen in your segment does bring about disadvantages at the same time, not just a different driving experience.

For example, you don’t get a lot of room inside and that’s probably the biggest flaw of this model. During our test, a rather short person couldn’t fit behind a 6-foot tall driver without having to stand as upright as possible.

Then there’s the transmission tunnel that cuts into the leg room in the back and the smaller doors. Even the boot had to be adapted to fit the differential at the back and those elements make the 1 Series a really compact offering.

It’s understandable though, as this is the smallest BMW on the market at the moment, after all. However, when you compare it against its rivals, you start to see the downsides.

If you’re all about driving dynamics, you’ll love it though. We had the 120d xDrive model fitted with the 8-speed automatic gearbox and this is the first time this combination is possible. In the past, you couldn’t get the brilliant ZF 8-speed gearbox with this engine and all-wheel drive.

Speaking of which, xDrive is still the same old brilliant to drive system of the past. It makes driving truly fun with its RWD bias character, even with a 2-liter diesel engine under the bonnet. Yes, this is truly a winner in dynamics.

Overall, the 1 Series was improved over its predecessor not only due to the new engines and transmissions but also due to the new tech and gadgets added to the mix, that make this a perfect package.

It will all come with a price though and our tester went over the €50,000 mark, easy. Is it worth all that money? Not by a long shot but then again, BMW wanted to show us a lot of the new stuff that you can get and it’s pretty impressive. However, if you tick only the boxes you know you can’t live without, you’ll be fine in terms of pricing. Either way, you should really hurry up as the last rear-wheel drive 1 Series is about to leave us for good!
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