With the notable exception of the i8, I'm of the opinion that BMW hasn't cranked out a truly good-looking car in a long while. The era of timeless BMWs ended with the E46. And in non-U.S. markets, the 1-Series hatchback was among their chief visual offenders. No longer! With a 2016 refresh, it's far less offensive than it used to be.
Now, I'm not talking about the old 1-Series coupe and convertible we got in America. That thing was fine. I'm talking about the car that replaced it, the F20 and F21 hatchbacks, cars roundly criticized for their homeliness. Its driving dynamics were fine, but its looks were never great, until now.
Not that this matters to Americans, because we don't get this 1-Series. You want a rear-wheel drive three- or five-door hatchback with a stick shift and a turbo inline six? HAH. Sorry. You live in the wrong country.
Thanks to new headlamps and a new front end, the 1 looks slightly less like a vicious children-eating insect than it used to. That's good! There's a few other changes, like optional LED headlamps and a tweaked interior.
The other big changes come in the form of engines. BMW's 1.5-liter three-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines are available for the first time ever, and the four-cylinder motors have been tweaked for emissions and fuel economy. If you want fun, get the M135i, which has a turbo inline six and 326 horsepower. I wish we did!
When the 1-Series re-launches in a couple years, it will be on the new front-wheel drive Mini platform and will probably come back to America as a sedan destined to do battle with the hot-selling Mercedes CLA and Audi A3. Enjoy the rear-drive hatch while you can. Which you can't, if you're an American.