There are some major differences between the two cars.
The BMW 1 Series will be bitten by the downsizing bug for its next iteration seen here flexing its muscles at the Nürburgring in the range-topping M140i specification. Interestingly, the hot hatchback from Bavaria was spotted while being put through its paces alongside the existing model. By the looks of it, the driver of the orange car had a lot of fun and made the most out of the rear-wheel-drive layout.
While the current M140i can be had with an optional xDrive layout, its replacement will only be offered in all-paw configuration. Some major changes are being planned for BMW’s entry-level model as the 1 Series will be demoted to a front-wheel-drive platform, specifically the UKL setup used already for the China-only 1 Series Sedan.
Since we’ve mentioned downsizing in the beginning, we should point the M140i will lose two of its cylinders as power will instead be provided by a turbocharged 2.0-liter gasoline engine replacing the sweet-sounding straight-six. As for the amount of power it will deliver, we’re expecting somewhere in the region of 320-340 hp. It will be interesting to see whether it will retain the "M140i" moniker or BMW will use something else.
The fact that it will switch to a FWD platform is not all bad news when you take into account it will allow the 1 Series to offer a significantly roomier interior, not just for the passengers, but also for their luggage. Rear legroom should greatly increase and there should also be a nice boost in fuel efficiency.
Pictured below, the current 1 Series will soldier on for at least another year, so there’s still plenty of time to buy a rear-wheel-drive, six-cylinder small hatchback. Speaking of the existing model, BMW went to the trouble of releasing a promo video with the updated 1 Series, which as you all know is now at its second facelift.
As a final note, it's worth mentioning BMW has made it clear an M1 is not on the agenda as there won't be fully fledged M models based on a FWD architecture.