It was Audi who kick-started this war by coming up with a compact car with the Q3. Mercedes followed suit with the launch of the A-Class which was the most brilliant of their launches. BMW of course was waiting it out until it decided to bring in the 1 Series.
You look at the 1 Series and it is unmistakably a BMW with its kidney-shaped grille, long bonnet and twin-barrel headlamps but it isn't quite the brat like the A-Class. The 1 Series' wheelbase is relatively generous too and though it has rear-wheel drive layout, it has enough of space inside the cabin.
BMW had to work a lot to achieve the 50:50 weight distributions in the 1 Series. They had to push back the engine almost behind the front axle line and even the battery had to be moved to the boot floor where the spare wheel is normally placed. This has taken the designers a lot of time to debate and think about but at the end of the day, they have achieved what they wanted to.
The suspension of the 1 Series too has been revamped as it gets a five-link rear axle and MacPherson struts up front, complemented by a double-joint, cross-strut front axle.
On the engine front, the 1 Series gets a pair of four-cylinder engines - one petrol and one diesel. The 1,995cc diesel is the one we've seen in the 3 Series, 5 Series, X1 and X3, as well as in the 525d. The engine however, for the 1 Series has been tuned to churn out 141bhp.
The feature list is a big one too. The 1 Series gets things like climate control, leather seats, electric sports seats, auto xenon lamps, rain-sensing wipers and a sunroof. But all this comes at a price and is only available in the top-end 118d Sportline Plus. The base variant does not come packed with these goodies.
With the 'Driving Experience Control' switch set in the default Comfort mode, the shifts are soft and seamless, and the 8-speed gearbox adjusts well to the throttle input you provide. Put it in Sport or Sport+, however, and the engine just loves to race. It is a completely different car and you know you can race this one from one part of the town to the other.
Prices for the 1 Series begin from a very tempting 20.6 lakhs and that is lesser than the Mercedes A-Class. It is the cheapest of the BMW's and if you always wanted to own one, there is no better time than now.