BMW 1 series is not alone on the roads

It has only recently released but nevertheless the BMW 1 series is already feeling the pressure. This time around the new version from BMW of their hatchback model is running into competition everywhere it turns.

If you happen to have the buying power to spend a minimum of £20,000 on a premium small family car then you have a number of choices. Besides the entry level hatchback from BMW you can also choose the Audi A3 all new from next year or even Mercedes is ending the A Class and will have a new hatchback in 2012 as well.

Also available is the Countryman from MINI that offers a raised seating position and more importantly off the scale desirability and for the same price. So how does a conventional hatchback stand up to that?

Even though the BMW Series 1 marks the start of the BMW range the German firm has not cut a corner. It is just a bit bigger than before but cheaper to operate and loaded with the latest gadgets. It remains the only rear wheel drive in its class adding to the fun.

Prices are from £19,500 for the 116i in ES trim. The five door versions will be on sale in September and the three-door will be in 2012 and then a year or so down the line a convertible and coupe.

The series 1 has always been noticed, love it or not. And an evolutionary new touch has been added to the latest model. Gone are edgy design language replaced by a smoother look that received its influence from the 5 and 6 series.

Curvier head lights join the still too large kidney grill while the rear is accentuated with tail lamps of softer LED but the flared wheel arches and wider stance make it look sportier and lower.

The cabin ticks with quality. The dash is trimmed in plastics that are soft touch and there is a good amount of leather. The equipment is plentiful as well. Even the ES models that are entry level have aircon as well as stop-start and the SE gets a flat screen monitor and hands free Bluetooth with connectivity via USB. The improvements in gadgetry, driver appeal and efficiency add up to a quite impressive car and the take on it is, it will take off.