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New 2023 BMW 1 Series facelift caught testing on the Nurburgring

BMW’s premium hatchback will get a complete redesign and new technology

Our latest batch of spy shots show that the upcoming facelifted BMW 1 Series is almost due a full reveal, with less camouflage detailing more of the updated hatchback’s design. 

Once again we’ve seen the range-topping M135i version under development, which will rival the likes of the Honda Civic Type R and Audi S3. We expect the hot hatch to launch around the same time as the standard model later this year. 

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The third-generation 1 Series has been with us since 2020 so a mid-life refresh is just about due. It’ll feature a suite of interior and exterior tweaks that’ll aim to keep it near the top of the premium hatch sector.

This M135i test car has lost some of its camouflage so at the front we can now get a clearer look at the revised front end, with a slimmer but wider grille - similar to the one found on the newer 2 Series. The headlights also look slightly different with a new LED signature. Below, the lower part of the bumper is completely reshaped with two horizontal bars and triangular intakes to the side. The side brake ducts have also been tweaked but they sit in the same general area as before.  

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Given that this is the most powerful 1 Series there are some big brakes to help keep that power in check and a panoramic sunroof - currently a £1,100 option which could become standard-fit on the M135i. 

A big change comes to the rear with the new quad exhausts - typically reserved for BMW’s fully-fledged M models. The rear bumper also has new indents suggesting a redesign back there too. Camouflage covers the rear lights but we expect a fresh light signature here. 

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The larger air intakes at the front could mean the M135i requires additional cooling for its turbocharging system - potentially as a result of more power being squeezed out of its 301bhp, 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The drivetrain will remain the same, with power sent to all four wheels.

We’ve also caught the standard 1 Series facelift testing as well. A new front grille will be the biggest design change, as well the combination of new bumpers all around and a tweaked headlight and rear light signature.

Inside the new 1 Series we can already see alterations from the current car’s technology. Rather than the new X1’s 10.25-inch infotainment panel and 10.7-inch digital dash, We’re almost certainly going to get the same 12.3-inch digital driver’s display and 10.25-inch touchscreen taken from the new 2 Series. The iDrive rotary controller will be removed in favour of a touch-only screen as BMW plans to reserve the feature for its larger models. The gear lever has also been shrunk from the usual stick shape to a small nub.

The current BMW 1 Series sits on the same UKL2 platform as the second-generation X1 SUV - recently replaced by a new third-generation X1 (which sits on an updated version of the same platform). We won’t see a fully-electric 1 Series just yet, with BMW positioning the upcoming iX1 as the firm’s smallest EV. 

It’s certainly possible that the 1 Series facelift will feature some form of hybrid technology for the first time, however. The 1 Series range could expand to include a plug-in hybrid engine option based on the 10kWh battery supported setup in the outgoing X1. This would likely deliver more than the old X1’s 30 miles of electric-only range thanks to the smaller proportions and better aerodynamic efficiency of the 1 Series. The new X1 features mild-hybrid technology on some of its engines, coming from a 48-volt power source. This power could find its way over to the updated 1 Series. 

These hybrid options would complement a number of three and four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines in the new 1 Series engine range when the car goes on sale sometime in 2023. 

Now read our review of the BMW M3 CS...

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Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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