On this day in auto history - September 18th

Sat 18th Sep 2021

It was on this day in 2004 that the BMW 1 Series was launched...initially to mixed reviews.

Having never fully committed to the supermini segment before, the 1 series represented a change of direction for BMW.

The Munich giants had seen its arch-rival Audi exceed expectations with its A3 whilst the VW Golf was proving more popular than ever. BMW wanted a piece of the action and the 1 Series was its attempt to steal some sales in an increasingly popular sector.

Though the oddly-angled styling wasn’t universally well-received, the original 1 Series proved popular with customers from the outset given that it was the cheapest way to BMW ownership and - unusually for a small car - offered rear-wheel drive.

After a 2007 facelift tweaked the styling and improved an already excellent engine range, the BMW 1 Series surged in popularity and exceeded market expectations.

A larger, well-received, second generation model introduced in 2015 gained a ’sports hatch’ moniker and has consolidated the vehicle’s popularity, helping it to smash through the two million sales barrier in the process.

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