2008 BMW 1-series 3-door

[cars name="BMW"] has sold more than 200,000 copies of its five-door 1-series, and the long-awaited three-door is now making its debut at the 2007 Geneva Auto Salon. The 2008 1-series is being shown with not only a new door configuration, but also a facelifted design, and a new generation of four-cylinder engines.

With the best steering feel of any BMW offering, and an available 255-hp 3.0-liter inline-six, the rear-wheel drive 1-series is a clear winner for enthusiasts.

The 2008 models will be available with six different engine choices: 116i (5-door only) with a 115-hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder; 118i and 120i, which share a 2.0-liter four, but due to intake differences are rated at 143 and 170 hp, respectively; 118d and 120d, with a 143 and 177-hp versions of a 2.0-liter turbodiesel; and finally the monster of the bunch, the 255-hp 130i, which uses the six-cylinder familiar to us in the 3- and 5-series. All 1-series come standard with six-speed manual transmissions; a six-speed automatic is optional across the board.

Four-cylinder 1-series cars come with a number of fuel-saving technologies, including direct injection, Brake Energy Regeneration, Auto-Stop function, and computer-controlled flaps that restrict airflow to the radiator for improved aerodynamics.

The Auto-Stop function will turn off the engine of manual-transmission four-cylinder cars when idling in neutral, saving fuel and reducing emissions. The engine is automatically re-started when the clutch pedal is depressed or if the car starts moving. The Brake Energy Regeneration system decouples the alternator (and other belt-driven accessories) during cruising, acceleration, or when charging is not necessary, and re-connects it during braking and coasting, resulting in improved fuel economy and better acceleration.

The three-door 1-series comes standard as a four-seater, but seating for five is available as a no-cost option. Bi-Xenon adaptive headlights are optional, as are BMW’s active steering and USB and auxiliary inputs for iPods and other MP3 players.

We expect the 1-series to hit U.S. shores in 2009, but it won’t look like this hatchback – it will be available as a coupe and a convertible only. BMW is frustratingly tight-lipped, but we’re guessing our 1-series will arrive in 128i form and 135i form, the latter with the 335i’s fantastic 300-hp twin-turbo six.

We can’t wait — in fact, we’re just as excited about the possibility of a 135i as we are about the new V-8 M3.

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