BMW launches 1-Series hatchback in India

After a couple of teasers that were aimed at snatching the limelight from the hot and happening Mercedes-Benz A-Class, BMW has now launched the 1-Series, its smallest and most affordable model yet, in the Indian market. To be assembled in the company's Chennai facility, the 1-Series will be a shot in the arm for BMW that has not only lost its lead but also been relegated to the last spot among the three big players in the Indian luxury car market.

The 1-Series is available in 4 variants. The base 116i is powered by a 1.6-liter TwinPower turbocharged petrol engine that churns out 136 bhp of power and 220 Nm of torque. Don't be fooled by the engine displacement. This car can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in just 8.7 seconds. All the other variants are powered by the 2.0-liter TwinPower turbocharged diesel engine that also does duty in 3-Series, 5-Series, X1 and X3 in varying levels of tune. With a rated power of 143 bhp and torque of 320 Nm, the diesel variants can reach 100 km/h from standstill in 8.6 seconds. Both the engines are mated to a 8-speed automatic transmission that transfers the power to the rear wheels. This bodes well for the enthusiasts amongst us, as rear wheel drive means a whole lot of fun every time we sit behind the wheel.

While the 116i is priced at INR 20.90 Lakhs, the diesel variants are priced at INR 22.90 Lakhs (118d), INR 25.90 Lakhs (118d Sport) and INR 29.90 Lakhs (118d Sport Plus). All the prices are ex-showroom and valid across all authorized BMW showrooms in the country. Unlike Mercedes-Benz that has just one variant of the A-Class each with a petrol and diesel engine, BMW has went all out with prices varying by a whopping INR 8 Lakhs between variants. Despite being assembled locally, the 1-Series, surprisingly, is more expensive than the A-Class which is it's sole competitor that's imported into India as a Completely Built Unit (CBU).

Safety isn't compromised in any variant, as the 1-Series range has 6 airbags, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Cornering Brake Control (CBC) and Dynamic Stability Control (DSL) with Dynamic Traction Control (DTC). The top-end 1-Series is fully loaded  and carries features such as rear-view mirrors with anti-dazzle function, xenon headlights, electrically adjustable seats with memory function, iDrive infotainment system with a 16.5cm colour display and a host of external touches that are aimed at enhancing the style quotient. While the features gradually reduce as we move down the pecking order, the price difference of INR 8 Lakhs between the lower and upper variants is alarmingly high.

While the 1-Series does look a bit aggressive like all other BMW models, it isn't going to grab eyeballs like the A-Class does. The uniquely-shaped headlight clusters combine with the kidney grille in perfect harmony. The profile is long and muscular with a horizontal character line running along the door handles. At the rear, we see traces of Volkswagen Polo in there.

By rushing up the launch of the 1-Series, BMW has ensured that Mercedes-Benz doesn't enjoy the first-mover advantage for long. Will the 1-Series, with the fun factor associated with its rear wheel drive configuration and more powerful and exciting engine options, dethrone the A-Class? What effect is Audi's proposed entry into the compact luxury segment going to have on the 1-Series and the A-Class? Let's wait and watch as this interesting episode unfolds.


  1. First it was Merc with the A Class and now its BMW with the 1 series. What next from Audi? India is shining..

    1. Its the A3 obviously, but we aren't sure if the hatchback would make it to our shores.