BMW’s revised 1 Series is easier to spot from the back than it is at the front, by dint of a facelift whose biggest single styling change is the adoption of L-shaped LED tail-light clusters.

The premium car firm also claims a fairly extensive redesign to the surrounding sheet metal at the rear, with some sharper horizontal creases to emphasise width and new reflectors mounted in the bumper that are intended to do the same.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
This facelifted BMW 1 Series gets new headlights, larger chrome-set kidney grilles and larger air intakes in the lower valance

Up front, there are new headlights, larger chrome-set kidney grilles and larger air intakes in the lower valance. It’s a fairly subtle facelift design-wise, but from a premium brand out to protect residual values, this is understandable. More importantly, most of our testers marked it as a worthwhile improvement.

The EfficientDynamics version, meanwhile, gets active aerodynamic flaps behind those kidney grilles in order to speed engine warm-up, while specially shaped vertical grille bars prevent excessive air pressure from building inside the engine bay, where it would otherwise add unnecessarily to the car’s drag. The front of the 1 Series is also better sealed against air ingress, contributing to an impressively low drag coefficient of 0.29.

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Under the bonnet, the 116d moves from four longitudinally arranged cylinders to three. BMW’s new-generation B37 1.5-litre turbodiesel triple moves in where its outgoing 1.6-litre four-pot used to be, producing an identical 114bhp of peak power but an extra 7lb ft of torque, with NEDC-certified carbon dioxide emissions of just 89g/km.

The engine shares its cylinder bore spacing and individual cylinder capacity with BMW’s new B47 2.0-litre diesel, as well as features such as its forged steel crankshaft and conrods, integrated balancer shaft, bearing-guided turbo shaft and intelligent oil pump. The EfficientDynamics version of the 116d engine, as tested here, is also fitted with an on-demand water pump and a specific combustion chamber pressure control system.

The car’s all-independent suspension is carried over for the most part, but it has new mountings, revised damping and slightly altered wheel kinematics – the aims of all three being better steering feedback and a quieter and more settled ride. Like its predecessor, the 116d EfficientDynamics Plus rides 10mm lower than a typical 1 Series for a more aerodynamic profile.

The other diesels are made up of different versions of BMW's 2.0-litre four-cylinder oilburner in 118d, 120d and 125d guises. There are also four twin-turbocharged petrol engine options for buyers to peruse too, including a the three-cylinder 118i, the four-cylinder 120i and 125i, and the range is headed by the electric six-cylinder M140i - replacing the previous incumbant - the M135i.

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