2012 BMW 1 Series Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2011


  • New front and rear fascias
  • New headlight and tail light clusters
  • New "air curtain" front aerodynamics to lower wind resistance
  • Standard 230-horsepower, 3.0-liter inline-6 engine (128i Coupe and 128i Convertible)
  • Standard 300-horsepower, 3.0-liter, turbocharged inline-6 engine (135i Coupe and 135i Convertible)
  • Standard 6-speed manual transmission
  • Optional 6-speed automatic transmission
  • Manufactured in Germany


The BMW 1 Series has been in production since 2004 (however, it has only been offered to customers in North America since 2008). The compact sports coupe and convertible are both based on the larger 3 Series platform. Differentiating themselves from others in this crowded segment, all 1 Series models are rear-wheel drive (most of the competitors are front- or all-wheel drive). In addition, all 1 Series models are fitted with 6-cylinder engines (including a 300-horsepower turbocharged model) while most of the competition uses 4-cylinder powerplants.

While it is the least expensive model in the automaker's lineup, the 1 Series should not necessarily be considered an entry-level model. Like all BMW models, the 1 Series arrives with a long list of standard power accessories and equipment. This includes power windows, air conditioning and cruise control. Of course, the automaker offers a long list of optional equipment, from upgraded sport wheels to navigation systems and hands-free keyless entry.

Noticeably changed for the new model year, the 2012 BMW 1 Series receives a new front and rear fascia, new front headlights, and a redesigned rear tail light cluster. In addition, the front end features what BMW calls an "Air Curtain" (marketing terminology for improved aerodynamics), which moves air away from the turbulent area near wheel arches to improve how the coupe and convertible cut through the air. The end result is less cabin noise and better highway fuel economy, according to BMW.


The 2012 BMW 1 Series is offered in two different body styles-a coupe or a convertible with a power-operated cloth top. Each is available with one of two engines. The 128i Coupe and 128i Convertible are powered by a 3.0-liter inline-6 engine rated at 230 horsepower and 200 lb.-ft. of torque. The range-topping 135i Coupe and 135i Convertible are fitted with BMW's "N55" engine. It is a single-turbocharged, 3.0-liter, inline 6-cylinder engine rated at 300 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque. The standard transmission in all 2012 BMW 1 Series models is a traditional 6-speed manual. Optional on the 128i models is a 6-speed "Steptronic" automatic transmission. The up-market 135i models are available with a sport-tuned 7-speed "DCT" (dual-clutch) automatic transmission that has been engineered to deliver faster shifts when compared to standard automatic transmissions, BMW says. As mentioned, rear-wheel drive is standard.

All 2012 BMW 1 Series models are equipped with independent suspension on all four corners. Up front, it is an aluminum double-pivot design, while the rear is configured with a 5-link arrangement. Upgraded "sport" suspension tuning is standard on the 135i models, optional on the 128i models. Standard wheels are 17-inch aluminum alloy on the 128i models, while 18-inch alloy wheels are standard on the 135i models.
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