BMW has come out with a decisively different looking 1-Series for the second generation of the car, yet there’s still some familiarity to the at times awkward looking compact. We’ll leave the styling judgments up to you, though one thing we can all agree on is that BMW has made a good decision in increasing the size of its latest 1-Series.

As mentioned in our previous report, this hatchback version of the new 2012 BMW 1-Series may for the first time be sold in the U.S. The strongest clue indicating such a possibility is the car’s increase girth, with the latest 2012 model being longer and wider than its predecessor--and with a longer wheelbase. However, for now, BMW is remaining tight lipped on the U.S. launch situation.

Overall dimensions come in at 166.7 inches in length, 69.5 inches in width and 55.9 inches in height, which makes it 3.3 inches longer than the outgoing model, 0.7 inches wider and about the same height. Importantly, the wheelbase has been increased by 1.2 inches to a total 105.9 inches, which results in more legroom in the rear--0.8 inches more in fact. Trunk storage space comes in at 12.7 cubic feet.

In Europe, the car will be offered with a range of gasoline and diesel engines, all turbocharged and delivering outputs ranging from 116 horsepower in the base 116d equipped with a 2.0-liter turbodiesel up to 184 horsepower in the 120d. Interestingly, this model features the same 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine as the base 116d but with a more potent tune. Unsurprisingly, this model is also the fastest, with a 0-62 mph time of 7.2 seconds and a top speed of 142 mph. The announced gasoline models all come with a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine.

A six-speed manual comes standard, and for the first time in the 1-Series customers will be able to opt for an eight-speed automatic. Later on BMW will launch the high-performance 128i and 135i gasoline models.

Fuel saving measures include several BMW EfficientDynamics technologies such as engine stop-start systems, a gearshift indictor for manual equipped models, brake energy regeneration, electric power steering and low rolling resistance tires.

The redesigned 1-Series Coupe and Convertible should follow in around about one year’s time, with these sportier variants expected to share the Hatchback model’s front end and interior. Further down the track expect to see a high-performance 1-Series M Coupe as well as a base spec model with a front-wheel drive configuration.

In the meantime, look out for the official world debut of the 2012 BMW 1-Series Hatchback at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show this September.


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