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BMW 1 Series Arrives Plus Cabrio Update

This week, BMW dealers across the United States began receiving the initial run of the new BMW 1 Series Coupe. Previewed on video (watch) by AutoPacific during the Los Angeles International Auto Show, the coupe looks even better on the showroom floor. While some dealers greed factor could be seen on the window sticker (between $2,000 and $5,000 over sticker), the real sales prices are more likely to be at or near the manufacturers price ($28,600 MSRP for the 128i ).

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The 1 Series represents a significant step for BMW. As the 3 Series has become larger with each new edition, room has opened up at the bottom of the model range for a new addition. And the 1 Series is only new in America – European models being available since 2004. The 1 Series is currently the only vehicle in its class featuring rear-wheel drive and a longitudinally-mounted engine


And while the 1 Series is smaller than today’s 3 Series, it isn’t smaller than the original 3 Series sold in North America. In fact, the 1 Series is based on what BMW has called the New Class, referring to the model range made famous by the 2002 in the 1960s. And, while the 1 Series is not a large car, it is not a Mini Cooper, either. It’s overall dimensions are within three inches (wheelbase, width) to the current Ford Mustang and it’s exterior dimensions are actually a bit larger than the latest 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX Sti.
BMW continues to market its cars using an unusual mix of media, including a very neat web video series in Japan (using New York as the backdrop and American actors). You can watch it here.
For those waiting to get their hands on the new 1 Series Cabrio, you won’t have to wait too long. Introduced during the 2008 Detroit International Auto Show (watch our video montage), the cabrio will be here in the coming two to three months, if BMW comments prove accurate. The 1 Series cabrio is mechanically identical to the Coupe, with both cars offering 3.0 liter straight-six engines, with or without turbo oomph. And, even with the more powerful 300HP 135i, highway mileage is a not-too terrible 26-mpg.

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Unlike the 3 Series cabrio, the 1 Series convertible has a soft/fabric roof. It works nicely and can be ordered with metallic fleck in the material. It’s also interesting to note that the roof can be raised or lowered while driving (up to 31 mph).
I like the look of both the convertible and the coupe, although I personally would love to see the five-door (sold in Europe) added to the lineup. While small hatch cars aren’t that popular in the U.S. overall, small hatch rockets are popular and becoming more so as we continue to see stories, posters, and ad campaigns the feature “green” in them.
The 1 Series doesn’t feel smaller than a 3 Series when you sit in it. The seats and interior are typical BMW: well designed, excellent fit and finish, and with a design style that makes the driver feel in control, even when standing still. The back seats are smaller than a 3 Series and the seat backs are more upright. When sitting in the front, however, the view outside could fool you into thinking you’re in a 3 Series and the similarity continues when you press the loud pedal as the car is equally, if not slightly faster than its big brother – and if so, you’ve got about a $6,000 savings over a 3 Series. That’s a formula we can live with.

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