The new BMW 7 Series will arrive in Ireland later in 2022

BMW 7 Series On The Way (2022)

The new BMW 7 Series will arrive in Ireland later in 2022
The new BMW 7 Series will arrive in Ireland later in 2022

BMW has taken the covers off the new BMW 7 Series, set for market launch at the end of 2022.

The latest generation of the brand’s flagship saloon will bring new levels of electrification, sustainability and digitalisation, including a new all electric BMW i7. There will also be two plug-in hybrids available.

Available exclusively in long-wheelbase form in either M Sport or Excellence specification, the new BMW 7 Series range comprises models from both the BMW i and BMW M brands.

The pure electric i7 xDrive60 will launch later this year, using a 101.7kWh battery and two electric motors. The range is expected to be between 590 and 625km, while the combined power output is over 544 hp. AC charging will be available for the i7 at a rate of up to 11 kW, while DC power can be taken on board at up to 195 kW.

The plug-in hybrid BMW 750e xDrive (490hp) and M760e xDrive (571hp) are set to follow in spring 2023, with an electric range of 80km expected.

The dedicated M Performance model will deliver 571hp, combining the performance characteristics of a BMW M model with plug-in hybrid technology.

The BMW i7 M70 xDrive flagship model with 600hp will follow later in 2023.

Inside the BMW 7 Series
Inside the BMW 7 Series

One of the main highlights of the equipment options that will be available in Ireland from Spring 2023 is the new BMW 7 Series is the BMW Theatre Screen. This includes a 31.3" 8K touchscreen display with Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system with optional in-seat exciters, built-in touch screen remotes in the door panels (BMW Touch Command), and an automated rear shade system that closes when the BMW Theatre Screen is turned on.

The new BMW 7 Series has grown by 130mm in length to 5,391mm, by 48mm in width to 1,950mm and by 51mm in height to 1,544mm. Its wheelbase is now 5mm longer at 3,215mm, whichenhances seating comfort in the rear. The headroom in the interior of the new BMW 7 Series has also been improved.

The new BMW 7 Series will be built at the BMW Group Plant Dingolfing, Germany. All electricity for the production of the new BMW 7 Series coming from renewable sources, while use of recycled and sustainable materials in the car has been significantly increased.

The new fully-electric BMW i7 xDrive60 is priced from €132,210 (RRP), with the first Irish deliveries expected to commence from December 2022.

The 7 Series will launch with electric and plug-in hybrid options
The 7 Series will be available with electric and plug-in hybrid options

The new BMW iX3 on test for Changing Lanes!

BMW iX3 Review (2022)

Read Caroline's BMW iX3 review for everything you need to know about buying BMW's electric SUV in Ireland in 2022.

In 2021, BMW has strengthened its portfolio of electric vehicles considerably with the arrival of the new BMW iX3, an electric version of the popular BMW X3 mid-size SUV. This year has also seen the launch of the flagship electric iX large SUV and the i4 electric sports saloon.

The new BMW iX3 on test for Changing Lanes!
The new BMW iX3 on test for Changing Lanes!

What's so special about the new BMW iX3?

But there's a familiarity to the iX3 that's sure to help it penetrate the market here, a market that is becoming ever more receptive to battery power.

With pricing starting from €74,815, the BMW iX3 is perched predictably in the higher end of the market. But in recent years rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz have been bringing their electric flagship SUVs to market, spearheading change that's rippling throughout every corner of the industry.

The development of the BMW iX3 was based on the experience amassed by the BMW i brand since 2011.

The iX3 is a pipe dream for many, but it's surprisingly effective and desirable for its market with robust range from a 80 kWh battery. Official data says the range is up to 460 km (WLTP) on a single charge, but most drivers won't emulate quite that. Still over 300 km is achievable and there's a lot of comfort and confidence driving on a full charge because of that.

The iX3 uses an 80 kWh battery
The iX3 uses an 80 kWh battery

Visually there are a few little hints to the iX3's electric underpinnings. Granted on test is the fully loaded 'Premier Edition Pro' that looks equally smart and sinister with bespoke modifications to the front and rear apron, enclosed front kidney grille and 20" black aerodynamic alloy wheels. But it's stout and squat like a good old-fashioned BMW SUV, many of which had found a home in Ireland since the X5 started it all.

Inside the new BMW iX3

Slipping inside the new BMW iX3 is a very pleasant experience. The cabin quality is excellent, the design sturdy and reassuring. There's no compromise in quality, everything looks and feels great, like any other X3 in the range. There's a full digital experience with a digital instrument cluster for the driver. It's a proper luxury liner.

The interior of the car also contains blue accents as a reference to the electric drive system. These can be found on both the Start/Stop button and the gear selector lever. Other model-specific cues include the model lettering on the centre console, door sill plates bearing the BMW i logo, the screens in the cockpit and Control Display adapted to the presence of an electric drive system as well as the standard-fitted ambient lighting, which provides blue illumination in its default setting.

Standard equipment for the new BMW iX3 includes BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto preparation and the digital services from BMW Connected Charging.

The interior of the new BMW iX3
The interior of the new BMW iX3

The BMW iX3 Premier Edition includes 20” black aerodynamic wheels, automatic tailgate, adaptive suspension and panoramic sunroof. Vernasca leather is available in a choice of four colours, along with Sensatec dashboard, sun protect glazing, ambient lighting and electric seats. Additional standard features include wireless phone charging, heated front seats and the brand’s very latest driver assistance technology, including Driving Assistant Professional, Parking Assistant and BMW Live Cockpit Professional.

Additional standard features on the Premier Edition Pro include BMW head-up display, Harman Kardon surround sound, gesture control, Parking Assistant Plus, automatic high beam assistant, and lumbar support.

Is it practical?

The iX3 remains a practical family SUV with little compromise on space inside the vehicle. The driver, the front passenger and the three occupants in the rear have almost exactly the same levels of space as in a conventionally powered BMW X3 variant.

Boot capacity also matches that of combustion-engined BMW X3 models, while the boot floor lifts up to reveal a stowage compartment for the charging cable or luggage compartment cover. Thanks to the 40:20:40 split/folding rear seat backrest, load space can be expanded as required. The load capacity of the new BMW iX3 is between 510 and 1,560 litres.

The BMW iX3 is capable of fast charging up to 150 kW
The BMW iX3 is capable of fast charging up to 150 kW

The new iX3 is capable of charging at 150 kW at DC fast-charging stations, with recharging from 0 to 80 per cent taking just over 30 minutes in these instances. When using AC terminals, there's single-phase charging available at up to 7.4 kW and three-phase charging at up to 11 kW.

Driving the BMW iX3

So is it still the ultimate driving machine with a battery? There's a healthy 286 hp and 400 Nm from a newly designed fifth-generation BMW eDrive electric motor. But that will be needed to haul the hulking iX3 at over 2.2 tonnes. Still the iX3 manages a 0 to 100 kmh sprint in just 6.8 seconds.

Power is transferred to the rear wheels and adaptive suspension fitted as standard optimises sporting responses and comfort. There's no four wheel drive option and ground clearance is not a strong point so don't try anything too adventurous with it.

The BMW iX3 has a unique rear axle subframe and bespoke chassis integration to help it meet the particular demands on a pure electric vehicle. The iX3 feels good on the road with the comfort and refinement we expect from a premium SUV. Handling and grip is fine. But the weight of the battery and its distribution appears to take the edge off BMW's famed sporty handling characteristics. The steering remains quite neutral too.

BMW enters the arms race with the iX3
BMW enters the electric premium SUV arms race with the iX3

Did you like it?

More than I thought I would. The iX3 is a brilliant electric SUV. Yes you pay for it but the quality and execution of this car is top notch. It remains comfortably familiar BMW territory - a beautiful interior, classic BMW design cues, and utterly seducing from the moment you slip behind the wheel and put it in Drive.

With over 300 km possible on one battery charge, I did many journeys with no charging required between them, including motorway journeys.

While ultimate 'ev' driving machine might be a stretch too far for this reviewer, comfort and refinement remain reassuringly premium and a good omen for the future of electric BMWs. The iX3 is another surprise hit of the year for Changing Lanes.

The BMW iX3 is a capable and desirable electric SUV
The BMW iX3 is a capable and desirable electric SUV

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: BMW iX3 Premier Edition Pro
Price: 
€76,067
Battery:
80 kWh
Power:  286 hp
Torque: 400 Nm
Top speed: 180 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 6.8 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€120 per year


In this review we test the Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series

Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series: Which Is Better?

In this review we test the Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series
In this review we test the Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series

Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series: Which is better?

Thinking of buying a new mid size executive saloon in Ireland in 2022? In this Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series comparison review, we are going to take a closer look at two titans of the executive car park – the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series. In 2019, BMW released an all new generation of the 3 Series, while in late 2019, a revised Audi A4 range hit dealer showrooms in Ireland.

The G20 BMW 3 Series sports a gentle evolution in styling of a very familiar silhouette. It’s the classic German 3-box saloon. Proportions have been revised, styling modernised more in line with the 5 Series from a class above. But the hallmarks of the 3 Series remain – the strong BMW kidney grille at the front and a road hugging sporty stance teasing the class-leading handling ability the BMW 3 Series will always be inextricably linked to.

In the Audi corner, the A4 does a fine job of commanding the executive car park. Timeless design, clean lines and elegant detailing are what make buyers fall in love with the Audi A4 quicker than you can say ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’. The 2019 facelift enhanced what was already a smart, contemporary design of a premium saloon car.

The interior of the latest 2020 Audi A4
The interior of the latest 2020 Audi A4

LED headlights are standard on both the A4 and the 3 Series ranges. Trim levels give a classic look or a sporty one in both the 3 Series and A4 ranges. This reviewer prefers the sporty look bestowed by BMW’s M Sport trim or Audi’s S line. Larger alloy wheels, meaner body kits and other exotic details make these models a little bit special (and more expensive).

So which car has the best interior?

The latest generation BMW 3 Series has a new interior that has been delightfully modernised with the latest technology features and infotainment. The material quality is excellent with beautiful leather upholstery available as standard on higher spec M Sport models. We loved the sporty M Sport steering wheel and new digital instrument panel, the latter which comes as standard across the range. SE and Sport models get a new 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, while M Sport gets the larger 10.25-inch with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, gesture and voice control. You can also control using the iDrive controller on the centre console.

In the cabin of the Audi A4, you can have a similar digital and techy experience. The cabin design is even better in the Audi A4. Though this car debuted in 2015, it still looks really elegant and contemporary inside. The 2019 update has made the A4 even better again with the latest 10.1-inch high resolution MMI touch display tilted slightly towards the driver. This set up comes as standard and keeps the Audi A4 at the races. A digital instrument panel is an extra however.

The 2020 Audi A4 S line
The 2020 Audi A4 S line

How practical are they?

The 3 Series has a longer wheelbase than the car it replaces and cabin comfort has been improved for passengers. There is still quite an intrusive transmission tunnel in the middle but overall there is more shoulder room in the front and extra legroom in the back. BMW has also increased the height of the door opening so getting in and out of the car is easier for rear passengers. There is not much between these two cars in that they will fit four adults comfortably. The boot volume is the same in both the A4 and the 3 Series - 480 litres. Both cars are available as more practical estate cars – the Audi A4 Avant and BMW 3 Series Touring.

Engine options

In Ireland the new BMW 3 Series is sold with petrol and diesel engines, and there is also a new BMW 330e plug-in hybrid. On the petrol side there is a 2.0-litre petrol badged 318i, 320i or 330i depending on horsepower; there are also 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre diesels (badged 318d, 320d, 330d). There's also a top end 340i and 340d models, which also feature BMW ‘xdrive’ four wheel drive. My pick is the popular BMW 320d with 2.0-litre diesel engine and 190 hp for a mixture of power, refinement and economy. 8-speed automatics and 6-speed manual gearboxes are available. However the 330e hybrid is another good choice in the range.

The interior of the 2020 BMW 3 Series
The interior of the 2020 BMW 3 Series

The Audi A4 is also available with a range of petrol and diesel engines, however at this time there is no A4 plug-in hybrid to match the popular BMW 330e. Power comes from a 2.0-litre petrol engine with 150 or 190 hp, or a 2.0-litre diesel with 136, 163 or 190 hp. A 6-speed manual gearbox or S tronic automatic are also available. Audi’s quattro four wheel drive is available on the 2.0-litre 190hp diesel. The 2.0-litre diesel with 163hp is a popular choice in this large executive car segment and very economical.

Why not try these for a test drive?

Audi A4 35 TDI 163hp S tronic S Line. Fuel consumption quoted at 5.4-5.7 litres/100km.

BMW 320d 190hp M Sport. Fuel consumption quoted at 4.4-4.7 litres/100km.

Driving them

On the road both the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series offer premium levels of comfort and refinement. They slice through the air seamlessly and silently. The Audi A4 seems just that little better in this regard with refinement and comfort being key pillars of this model. But that’s not to say that the BMW 3 Series is bad in this particular area. However the BMW 3 Series is a lot more fun and engaging to drive than the Audi A4, even as a basic four pot diesel. The steering is sporty and tactile, the grip and poise sensational. It’s the one that never ceases to entertain.

We'll always love a drive in the BMW 3 Series
We'll always love a drive in the BMW 3 Series

Equipment

For the most up to date pricing for the Irish market, please check the manufacturer's website!

The BMW 3 Series comes in three trims SE, Sport and M Sport. The entry level SE model has 17″ alloys, LED headlights, BMW Light Carpet, interior ambient lighting, reversing camera, electric folding rear view mirrors, three-zone air conditioning and enhanced acoustic glazing. There’s also a leather sport steering wheel and BMW Live Cockpit plus, with 8.8-inch central instrument cluster.

The Audi A4 comes in SE or S Line trim. Standard equipment includes heated, electrically adjustable front seats, tri zone climate control, the 10.1-inch colour display, smartphone interface, 18“ alloys, LED headlights and rear lamps, rear view camera, Audi Drive Select, keyless go, front and rear parking sensors, and cruise control.

The Audi A4 shines for its refinement and elegance
The Audi A4 shines for its refinement and elegance

So which are you buying?

This is a very tough call. When you are buying a car at this level of the market, a few things are guaranteed: prestige, refinement, comfort and quality. The Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series deliver on these fronts. Under the skin, the BMW is the newer car here, however the Audi A4 2019 facelift means that you would be hard pressed to know it. The Audi A4 steals the show in terms of interior design and technology. It just is a nicer cabin to spend time in. However, beside the BMW 3 Series, the Audi A4 is fine but dull to drive. The 3 Series is really good to drive, engaging, athletic and supple. The Audi A4 is a classy, plush ride. So which will it be?

In light of our summation above, you won’t regret buying either car. But for this reviewer who loves driving, my money would be on the BMW 3 Series.

Caroline Kidd


More charging options for MINI and BMW drivers

BMW Charging/MINI Charging In Ireland

More charging options for MINI and BMW drivers
More charging options for MINI and BMW drivers

With the launch of BMW Charging and MINI Charging, customers in Ireland now have access to one of the world’s largest public charging networks, using just one RFID card or App.

Using their single BMW Charging or MINI Charging card, or the new BMW or MINI Charging App, customers can charge at more than 1,085 charging points from different operators in Ireland, as well as 173,000 charge points across Europe.

BMW and MINI drivers benefit from access to charge points from a range of operators, with the current network including ESB Group eCars, EVBox, Chargepoint Ireland and others.

High-power DC charging stations via IONITY are also part of the BMW Charging network.

Combined, this gives drivers access to over 832 AC and 253 DC charging points in Ireland, plus a further 162,000 AC and 11,000 DC charging points across Europe.

BMW or MINI Charging customers can register for a pay-as-you-go ‘Flex tariff’, which provides the driver with access to all included network operators using a single charge card, without the need for a monthly membership or subscription to each individual operator. Customers choosing this tariff simply pay each month for the charging they have used. Pricing is based on the individual Charge Point Operators pay-as-you-go rates.

For drivers who use public charging more frequently, BMW and MINI Charging additionally offers the ‘Active tariff’, which for a base fee of €4.99 per month provides customers attractive standardised pricing per/kWh across the included networks (excludes IONITY). Customers using up to 43kW AC pay just €0.23 per kWh, up to 150kW DC is €0.27 per kWh.

Access to the IONITY charging network with up to 350kW DC Charging capability is available to both ‘Flex tariff’ and ‘Active tariff’ customers at their standard rate of €0.73 per/kWh. However, for drivers who use the IONITY charging network regularly, the optionally available ‘IONITY Plus’ package (€13.00 per month base fee) provides access to a preferential rate of just €0.27 per kWh, saving drivers €0.46 per kWh compared to the standard rate.

Customers who purchase a new fully-electric or plug-in hybrid BMW or MINI via a BMW or MINI Centre are offered the ‘Active tariff’ for 12 months without base fee. BMW customers who purchase a new BMW iX3, BMW iX or BMW i4 vehicle via a BMW Centre are also eligible for the ‘IONITY Plus’ package for 12 months, without base fee.

Drivers can see a breakdown of their charging history and fees using the App or at the new BMW or MINI charging website, with the cost of completed charging sessions and any optional package subscriptions invoiced monthly.

To locate nearby charge points, customers can use the My BMW App, MINI Connected App, new BMW/MINI Charging App or BMW/MINI Charging websites. The BMW and MINI Navigation system also shows nearby charge points, and all charging points within the network.

For more information on BMW and MINI Charging, visit www.bmw-charging.com or www.mini-charging.com


BMW launches its world-first eDrive Zone technology in Ireland

BMW Launches eDrive Zone Technology In Ireland

BMW launches its world-first eDrive Zone technology in Ireland
BMW launches its world-first eDrive Zone technology in Ireland

The world-first BMW eDrive Zone technology is now available in Ireland, giving drivers of BMW plug-in hybrids like the 330e and 530e an intelligent service that automates the process of switching to electric-only power when a BMW plug-in hybrid vehicle enters a defined area of a city.

Already active in Dublin and Limerick, BMW has further plans to launch its eDrive Zones in Cork and Galway in the coming year.

Unique in the worldwide automotive industry and a first in Ireland, a BMW eDrive Zone automatically ensures that the electric power is conserved for use during the part of the journey within defined zones, if the journey destination is entered into the vehicle’s navigation system.

There are also plans to introduce the BMW Points loyalty programme in Ireland, where drivers of BMW plug-in hybrid models will be rewarded with attractive offerings via a point system. This has already been launched to BMW customers in the UK. Every electrically driven kilometre will count and within an eDrive Zone, twice as many points can be collected.

“This is the type of flexibility that customers want, as they make the transition to electromobility” said Kevin Davidson, Managing Director BMW Group Ireland, commenting on the launch of BMW eDrive Zones.

“A plug-in hybrid vehicle combines the best of two worlds: emission-free city-driving as well as long-distance capabilities. We urge the Irish government to prioritise plug-in hybrid vehicles in order to achieve the shared objective of reducing CO2 emissions. This technology will help improve air quality in cities around Ireland and also reduces running costs for drivers. It’s win-win for everyone”, Davidson added.

The BMW eDrive Zones service, available as standard on BMW plug-in hybrid models running the latest BMW Operating System 7.0, uses geo-fencing technology via GPS within the vehicle’s navigation system. The eDrive Zones in Dublin and Limerick are highlighted graphically on the vehicle’s Central Control Display navigation screen, so drivers can see their location.

The BMW eDrive Zones service is available on the BMW 330e, BMW 530e, BMW 545e, BMW 745e, BMW X3 30e (produced from August 2021) and BMW X5 45e drivers with BMW Operating System 7.0. Additional compatible models launching in the future. BMW eDrive Zones has also been made available via a free over-the-air software update for compatible BMW plug-in hybrid vehicles, meaning existing customers can also benefit from this technology.


The BMW X1 xDrive25e on test for Changing Lanes!

BMW X1 xDrive25e Hybrid (2021) Review

The BMW X1 xDrive25e on test for Changing Lanes!
The BMW X1 xDrive25e on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2021 BMW X1!

The BMW X1. The baby of the BMW X family of SUVs. For BMW, with a rich history in SUVs like the popular X5, the new brief required of the market was to beef up the compacts to satiate growing consumer demand for anything that looked at all like it might be good off-road!

The result was the X1, first launched in 2009, with a second generation model debuting in 2015. In 2019 the brand refreshed the car with some updated styling and the introduction of an all-new plug-in hybrid model.

Now the BMW X1 meets Changing Lanes for the first time. Excited, yes!

What's new for the 2021 BMW X1?

Plug-in hybrid is hot right now, you might have noticed. Now joining the X1’s range of petrol and diesel engines is the BMW X1 PHEV – aka the BMW X1 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid model.

The X1 range goes on sale from €40,775, with the plug in hybrid available from €45,790, while the sporty M Sport model on test retails from €47,287. There are four model variants available for the X1 - SE, Sport, xLine and M Sport - and each stands apart with its own unique looks and equipment to match.

The BMW X1 PHEV retails from €47,287 in Ireland
The BMW X1 PHEV retails from €47,287 in Ireland

The X1 has a stylish and upmarket presence. It’s not the most exciting or sporty BMW you ever set eyes upon, but with a softer, more friendly look to it. The M Sport version comes equipped with upgraded M Sport suspension and the M Aerodynamics package. Other features include heated front seats, folding exterior mirrors and Dakota Leather upholstery. The front apron, side skirts, wheel arch trim, diffuser and cladding on the BMW X1 M Sport come in body colour, with larger air intakes than other models.

Inside the 2021 BMW X1

The cabin of the 2021 BMW X1 is a comfortable and secure place to be. While this is an older generation BMW interior, the fit and finish of the car is truly special. It feels so upmarket and well-built. So classy!

This latest model incorporates the sixth generation of BMW’s iDrive system that introduces a touchscreen control for the Control Display alongside the iDrive Controller and optional intelligent voice control.

The X1 is a compact car but it feels spacious inside for this class of vehicle. Boot space is slightly compromised by the battery on board for the plug-in hybrid model, but it's not a huge impact and the boot does feel practical with a hatchback style opening for good access. There's 450 litres in total. A powered tailgate is available. Standard 40:20:40 split folding backrests allow the boot capacity to be increased to 1,470 litres.

The interior of the BMW X1
The interior of the BMW X1

What are my options?

The BMW X1 is powered by a range of three and four cylinder turbo engines, using either a front-wheel drive configuration or BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive. Manual and automatic gearboxes are available. The petrol range starts with the 140 hp 1.5-litre sDrive18i. There is also a more powerful 2.0-litre X1 sDrive20i with 192 hp. The diesel range uses a 2.0-litre engine, and both the sDrive and the all-wheel drive xDrive18d models deliver 150 hp. The 190hp all-wheel-drive xDrive20d is at the top of the X1 range.

BMW is stepping up its electrification journey with the addition of new plug-in hybrids to familiar favourites of the range. The new X1 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid on test uses a 1.5-litre, three cylinder engine with a 9.7 kWh battery giving an electric range of up to 57 km. The petrol engine transfers its power to a 6-speed Steptronic transmission and drives the front wheels. The electric motor delivers its power to the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission. This makes for a hybrid specific all-wheel drive, which makes the X1 super agile! It grips the road exceptionally well, with 220 hp available.

The new BMW X1 PHEV uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine, battery and electric motor
The new BMW X1 PHEV uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine, battery and electric motor

On the road in the BMW X1 xDrive25e

So beneath the quite demure looks, the X1 hybrid offers a lively drive and great handling. This is down to the car’s low centre of gravity, wide track, short overhangs, high level of body and chassis rigidity, and a suspension tuned well for comfort and agility. The xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system is linked with BMW’s DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) to keep oversteer or understeer in check, while the M Sport models add M Sport suspension for a sharper drive.

If you do a lot of town driving, the X1 PHEV is ideal as an introduction to electric motoring with up to 57 km available from a fully charged battery. From a wall box, the battery can be charged in just over 3 hours or in 5 hours from a conventional household socket. The charging socket is located under a separate flap on the front left side wall of the car.

Over a week of driving, my average fuel consumption was 7 litres per 100 kilometre. I failed to keep the battery topped up, so with more regular charging the X1 could be run more efficiently.

The X1 is a practical compact SUV with plug-in hybrid power
The X1 is a practical compact SUV with plug-in hybrid power

Did you like it?

The BMW X1 really surprised me. It’s a real high quality compact SUV, one with all of the class and refinement of a BMW wrapped up in a smaller (and chunkier) package like the X1.

It’s not the trendiest looking machine but the cabin may seduce you with its class, design and quality. It feels a little old school but in a reassuring way, like a good strong cup of tea!

This is a practical car with plenty of flexibility that gives it a headstart over the BMW 1 Series for example, and a different character.

Yet its nimble, compact and fun to drive. While there are petrol and diesel engines on offer, the X1 plug-in hybrid is a good option for urban drivers who can make use of that electric range, charge after every journey, and sample electric motoring for a limited range.

There is lots of power and it is super refined. So guess what? We really enjoyed driving the X1 at Changing Lanes!

BMW continues to expand plug-in hybrid range with new X1 PHEV
BMW continues to expand plug-in hybrid range with new X1 PHEV

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: BMW X1 xDrive25e
Price:
€47,287
Engine: 
1.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 220 hp
Torque: 385 Nm
Top speed: 193 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 6.9 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
43-48 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year


The new BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé (2021) On Way To Ireland!

The new BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé
The new BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé

The all-new BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé will arrive in Ireland this November, priced from €55,350.

It features enhanced driving dynamics, a sharper design aligned to the BMW brand’s new design language and a new interior, following on from the launch of the BMW 4 Series Coupé in Ireland in 2020.

The new 4 Series Coupé will be offered in a range of engine variants and trims, including 420d M Sport, 420d xDrive M Sport, 430d xDrive M Sport, 420i M Sport and 430i M Sport, with M Sport Pro Editions offered in addition on each engine variant.

M440d xDrive and M440i xDrive will also be available.

The second generation of the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé is based on the technical underpinnings of the new BMW 4 Series Coupé, which means a far broader set of design and dynamic performance characteristics now distinguishes it from the BMW 3 Series range, compared with the outgoing model. The car’s aerodynamics and the rigidity of the body and chassis mountings have undergone rigorous optimisation, while bespoke tuning of the chassis technology promises a sporty and stimulating driving experience.

Standard Irish specification includes 18” M double-spoke Bi-colour Alloy wheels, M Sport suspension, M sport spoiler in body colour, M sport exterior styling, high-gloss Shadowline Exterior trim, Vernsasca leather upholstery, Aluminium Tetragon interior trim, ambient lighting, anthracite headlining, BMW online services, Live Cockpit Professional and ConnectedPackage Pro.

In addition, M Sport Pro Edition models include 19” M Double-spoke Jet Alloy Wheels, BMW individual lights shadow line, M Sport seat belts, sun protection glass, M Sport spoiler, M adaptive suspension, M Sport brakes with blue calipers, M Sport differential, Black mirror caps, Individual metallic paint and individual piano black interior trim.

The interior of the new 4 Series Gran Coupé
The interior of the new 4 Series Gran Coupé

Optional Packs include the Comfort Pack (including steering wheel heating, electric boot lid, comfort access and extended storage), Comfort Plus Pack (including comfort access, heated steering wheel, electric memory seats and front lumbar support), Technology Pack (including gesture control, head-up display, enhanced wireless charging and Harman Kardon surround system), Technology Plus Pack (includes parking assistant plus, driver assistant professional, enhanced Bluetooth and wireless charging, drive recorder, gesture control, head-up display and Harman Kardon surround system) and finally Visibility Pack, which offers Laserlights and High-Beam assistant.

A number of single options are also available.

Model DescriptionIE RRPOTR
420i M Sport€55,350.00€56,225.00
430i  M Sport€62,600.00€63,475.00
M440i xDrive€83,620.00€84,495.00
420d M Sport€55,900.00€56,775.00
420d xDrive M Sport€58,870.00€59,745.00

The all-new BMW i4 electric coupé will also go on sale this November, with pricing starting from €63,565 on the road and an all-electric range of up to 590 km.

The 2021 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé will be built at BMW Group Plant Munich together with the all-electric BMW i4.

The new 4 Series Gran Coupé goes on sale in Ireland this November
The new 4 Series Gran Coupé goes on sale in Ireland this November

The new BMW 330e on test for Changing Lanes!

BMW 330e Review (2022)

The new BMW 330e on test for Changing Lanes!
The new BMW 330e on test for Changing Lanes!

Thinking of buying a new BMW 3 Series in Ireland. Read Caroline's BMW 330e review for everything you need to know about the hybrid 3 Series.

What happens when you mix plug-in hybrid power with the BMW 3 Series? It’s a question very much worth exploring as the German brand continues to launch a slew of new electrified models on the Irish market.

Badged 330e, the 3 Series hybrid has some history, debuting for the first time in Ireland back in 2016. Yet with an all-new generation of the 3 Series on sale since 2019, and a reworked 330e, it’s game on in the Changing Lanes test garage!

Driving the latest generation BMW 3 Series again is a reminder of a few magical days in 2019 spent with the 320d. A BMW 320d is a bit of a legend in its own right with a four cylinder diesel engine that delivers smart economy and plenty of fun behind the wheel.

What's so special about the BMW 330e?

But the 330e has proven its mettle in the 3 Series range, winning over its own quotient of buyers with its smooth petrol power and ability to plug in and charge up between drives, plus super low CO2 emissions meaning motor tax is just €140 per year.

In the new generation of the BMW 3 Series of course it’s ‘better’ all round. They don’t release these cars without some improvements!

The BMW 330e Hybrid goes on sale in Ireland from €48,894
The BMW 330e Hybrid goes on sale in Ireland from €48,894

Let’s recap on a few of the basics first. The BMW 3 Series range kicks off from €44,453 in Ireland for a petrol 318i, with a diesel 318d from €46,564 and the 320d range from €49,765. The 330e hybrid starts from €48,894.

The BMW 330e uses a 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol engine, battery and electric motor. Power output is a formidable 292 hp while there is 420 Nm of torque to play with. Yipee!

The BMW 330e is handsome. Super handsome. Finished in Portimao Blue and bejewelled with the M Sport trim elements, our 330e test car is sporty, muscular, and sophisticated.

Inside the BMW 3 Series

Inside the 3 Series has a wonderful interior that puts the driver competently in the centre of the action. This is a real driver’s car. Vernasca leather upholstery makes us feel comfortably executive, while the digital instrument panel, centre screen and iDrive system give the required touch of modernity. Material quality is excellent and this is a great car to spend time behind the wheel of!

The junior executive saloon will seat five with good sized footwells in the rear, though a large transmission tunnel eats into legroom for a middle passenger. Boot space is compromised somewhat in the 330e plug-in hybrid however, down about 100 litres to 375 litres to accommodate the battery.

The interior of the 2021 BMW 3 Series
The interior of the 2021 BMW 3 Series

Driving the BMW 330e

On the road, the 330e feels snappy and swift. Power delivery gets a professional finish. You wouldn’t expect anything less from a car wearing this badge. The 330e is as happy to cruise as it is to take on some corners. Rear wheel drive agility keeps things light and interesting behind the wheel. There’s plenty of grip and steering is direct. The set up is quite firm in this one, so rougher road surfaces do communicate more into the cabin. But on the smooth stuff, all is well.

Interestingly the car doesn’t feel quite as communicative in your hands as the 320d we tested previously. The electrified powertrain mutes the sensations somewhat. But the instant power delivery of the electric motor is immediately obvious. Boom!

But let’s not forget there is mighty wizardry at play here allowing you to slip this baby into electric mode and stealth mode slide around town on electric power alone for a range of up to 60 km. That’s more than before.

The plug-in hybrid models in the new BMW 3 Series owe their increased electric range to the latest advances in battery cell technology. Their lithium-ion batteries, designed specifically for each model and manufactured by the BMW Group, have a gross energy content of 12.0 kWh.

Using the electric range is best suited to low speed driving in town or short commutes, as the battery power will drain more rapidly at high speeds on the motorway for example. But I was lazy with the charging and still managed to post a good return on economy of 6.4 litres per 100 km.

It takes between 3 and 6 hours to charge the battery to full, depending on type of connection.

The 3 Series is a fun sports saloon
The 3 Series is a fun sports saloon

Did you like it?

BMW’s compact executive saloon gains even more power and flexibility in the 330e. The 330e gives options as we transition to more electrification, but even if you are not a frequent charger, the car performs on fuel like a decent petrol car.

There is an impressive fluidity to this car on the road, aided by the electric motor. Maybe not quite as sharp as a 320d for example. But it is a sporty car with a firm enough set up on the road.

It’s indeed a beautiful car, particularly in M Sport trim. We love the high quality interior, and that very meaty steering wheel.

The 3 Series is a legend and deservedly so!

The BMW 330e is a plug-in hybrid offering an all-electric drive up to 60 km
The BMW 330e is a plug-in hybrid offering an all-electric drive up to 60 km

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: BMW 3 Series 330 e M Sport
Price: 
€49,082
Engine: 
2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 292 PS
Torque: 420 Nm
Top speed: 230 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 5.8 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
34 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year

 


The BMW 5 Series has been updated for 2021

BMW 530e Review (2022)

The BMW 5 Series has been updated for 2021
The BMW 5 Series has been updated - the brand's most popular model in Ireland

Caroline drives the the latest BMW 530e! The brand's large executive saloon now with plug-in hybrid power but is it any good? Read Caroline's BMW 530e review to find out.

What's so special about the BMW 5 Series?

The BMW 5 Series is unquestionably a stalwart of the BMW range and indeed the entire motor industry. Making a grand entrance comes simply to the 5 Series - it has been doing just that for well over 40 years.

The latest generation of the large executive classic launched here in Ireland back in 2017. That story ended with the 5 Series winning us over with its luxurious cabin and fun to drive character behind the wheel.

In 2020 the BMW 5 Series returned with a few tweaks to keep it competitive in its class. It's the 'facelifted' 5 we find here on test for Changing Lanes.

The 5 Series is BMW’s bestselling model in Ireland and the updated range goes on sale from €53,468 for a 520d diesel or from €53,803 for a 520i petrol.

What’s new for the BMW 5 Series?

Electrification moves up a gear with a revised 530e in 2021 – the plug-in hybrid 5 Series that’s capable of driving on pure electric power for a range of up to 58 km. It goes on sale from €59,822 and posts some very impressive performance figures while keeping CO2 emissions as low as 40g/km. Plug-in hybrid power is growing in popularity across the motor industry and indeed the BMW range, with many old favourites now getting the addition of a battery, electric motor and plug!

Elsewhere styling has been mildly tweaked and new equipment added. But the 5 Series in 2021 remains a gloriously handsome car that makes you feel like a boss! The BMW kidney grille is now bigger, flanked by slimmer LED headlights with two U-shaped daytime running lights.

The 5 Series goes on sale priced from €53,468
The 5 Series goes on sale priced from €53,468

In Ireland the new BMW 5 Series will be available in SE, M Sport and M Sport Edition trims. The M Sport package features new 19” and 20” wheels, while the new limited M Sport Edition comes with exclusive Individual metallic paint and unique 20” Air Performance wheels.

The front apron of both SE and M Sport cars has also been redesigned with larger and more pronounced air inlets. At the rear, the taillights have been redesigned with blackened glass. There’s also a redesigned rear apron, trapezoidal tailpipe finishers and a sportier mounted diffuser.

Inside the BMW 5 Series

The quality and comfort inside the 5 Series make it one of the most desirable large premium saloons on the market today. Yes, you will know you are behind the wheel of something expensive. There are many different trims and beautiful interior options you can choose from, which makes every 5 Series feel more individual and nothing short of luxurious! Leather upholstery is standard across the range and the test car had Ivory White Dakota leather. Material quality is just excellent everywhere.

New interior features include a larger 12.3” Central Information Display powered by the latest Operating System 7.0 with rotary controller, including BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant and smartphone integration. The new 5 Series also benefits from the latest camera- and radar-based driving assistant systems, including features like steering and lane-control assistant and active cruise control.

The interior feels large and welcoming with good width across the rear bench for three, through the transmission tunnel takes up a fair bit of space on middle passengers. Wouldn’t it be more realistic for two VIPS or executives?

In the 530e plug-in hybrid, boot space is somewhat compromised to accommodate the 12 kWh battery under the boot floor. But the floor remains flat and there is a decent 410 litres of space regardless.

The interior of the 2021 BMW 5 Series
The interior of the 2021 BMW 5 Series - luxury limo!

What are my engine options?

The 530e uses a 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol engine, battery and 80 kW electric motor, all combined with an 8-speed automatic gearbox. Plug-in hybrid is a big emerging trend in the BMW range with the brand adding many new plug-in hybrids across model ranges in the last 12 months. The 530e plug-in hybrid gets improved for 2021 with more power, torque and better efficiency, while a new 545e has also been added with a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine. The 5 Series Touring is also available as a plug-in hybrid for the first time.

Other engine options include four and six cylinder petrol and diesel engines with mild-hybrid technology across the board to enhance performance, lower fuel consumption and improve driving comfort.

In 2017 we tested the classic BMW 520d 2.0-litre diesel at Changing Lanes and it never fails to impress with its refinement, power and economy.

Driving the BMW 530e

This time at Changing Lanes, it’s the turn of the petrol electric hybrid 530e. It is one of the most powerful of the range with 292 hp and 420 Nm of torque. This means it feels lively and flexible all the time, with a responsive throttle that marries beautifully with the 5 Series rear wheel drive dance through corners. This is a real thing. BMW make cars do this very well. They have been doing it for years. The 530e is lithe but we think the 520d we tested previously might have taken on the lateral challenges of corners a teeny bit better owing to the traditional combustion engine powertrain sans battery and electric motor.

Power is put to the road in a controlled, stately manner. It's the most fun large plug-in hybrid you will find in the executive car park! This is a super quiet, comfortable long distance cruiser. The steering is meaty with plenty of feedback for a tactile experience behind the wheel. Sport mode livens things up even more but you can optimise efficiency in the Hybrid mode and still enjoy this car.

Ideally, your plug-in hybrid should be charged regularly to get the best out of it and run it on electric power for the range of up to 58 km. Ideal for low speed trips around town. When you get out on to the motorway your battery power will drain fast. But the 530e still posted some very acceptable economy figures for what is a heavy car. Over a week of driving we averaged 6.7 litres per 100 km. And wow was this car good to drive on the motorway! For this generation of the 5 Series BMW paid particular attention to reducing interior noise levels.  The BMW 5 Series is forever stylish and fun to drive!The BMW 5 Series is forever stylish and fun to drive!

Did you like it?

We love the 5 Series at Changing Lanes. It has such class and presence, amazing pedigree and fun rear wheel drive handling.

The BMW handles superbly and feels alive in your hands like none of its competitors. The 530e adds hybrid power to the mix championing a silky smooth transmission and a new degree of silence to driving a 5 Series.

The 5 Series is ageing but still looks good. The interior is high quality with a reasonable digital upgrade helping keeping it up to date with competitors.

Diesel has been the default in this segment for a long time but the 530e is a successful alternative, offering buyers flexibility - but at a premium. We can't see the classic 520d being abandoned any time soon. It posts great economy, especially for high mileage and frequent motorway users. But whatever your preferred flavour of 5, you will find an amazing companion in the BMW 5 Series!

The new BMW 530e on test for Changing Lanes!
The new BMW 530e on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: BMW 5 Series (530e) M Sport
Price: 
€66,996
Engine: 
2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 292 PS
Torque: 420 Nm
Top speed: 235 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 5.9 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
40 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year


The BMW 1 Series vs Mercedes-Benz A-Class: which is better?

BMW 1 Series vs Mercedes-Benz A-Class: Which Is Better?

The BMW 1 Series vs Mercedes-Benz A-Class: which is better?
The BMW 1 Series vs Mercedes-Benz A-Class: which is better?

BMW 1 Series vs Mercedes-Benz A-Class: Which is better?

In this comparison review, we are going to take a closer look at two of the hottest premium compacts on sale in Ireland right now – the BMW 1 Series and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class! In 2018, Mercedes-Benz launched a new generation of the A-Class, while in 2019 it was the turn of BMW, with a new 1 Series hitting dealer showrooms.

Both cars mark an entry into the ranges of their respective brands. Premium compact hatchbacks are an opportunity for aspirational buyers to get on the ladder of their favourite premium brand. Get them hooked and it's likely they will stay a fan forever, migrating to larger models as their lifestyle and earning power changes.

While the A-Class is now available as a hatchback and as a saloon, here we will examine it in hatchback form as the direct rival to the BMW 1 Series hatchback.

The new BMW 1 Series is on sale in Ireland in 2021 priced from €32,891
The new BMW 1 Series is on sale in Ireland in 2021 priced from €32,891

Nice to look at?

Both the new BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class are attractive cars in the metal, with high class kerb appeal. BMW styling has turned into something quite controversial in recent years and the 1 Series hasn't been immune from criticism for its larger than life grille. But it is a significant improvement over the car it replaces, and brings it more in line with larger BMWs like the popular 3 Series and 5 Series. In fact at Changing Lanes we are a big fan of that rear styling. The appearance changes depending on trim level, with the M Sport models really looking the best. They sit lower on the road with a more aggressive body kit and 18” alloys, as well as satin aluminium struts in the kidney grille.

Over in the Mercedes-Benz camp the A-Class avoids controversy with a handsome compact exterior. A slimmer and lighter appearance adds even more desirability to the latest generation of the A-Class. Like the BMW, different trim levels give the car a different look. But the AMG Line models have sporty flair that really suits the new generation Benz compact, with a sportier styling kit and 18” alloy wheels.

The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is on sale in Ireland in 2021 priced from €31,080
The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is on sale in Ireland in 2021 priced from €31,080

So which car has the best interior?

While exterior looks are a personal preference, inside is where the battle is really fought these days for the hearts and minds of buyers. Even in the premium compact class, the race to include as much digital technology and connectivity is on. Big time. It's a race both our featured brands here do very well, but with their own unique style.

When the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class arrived in 2018, the brand was debuting the all new MBUX infotainment system that has since been rolled out to other models in the Mercedes range. The twin screen layout was new and exciting, with the system responding to novel voice commands of 'Hey Mercedes'. It has aged very well. In fact the whole A-Class interior is still a joy to behold in 2021 as one of the best premium compact interiors of its generation! Material quality is excellent and the design is super stylish. One just feels expensive inside the new A-Class. It's a very satisfying place to sit. The widescreen digital effect comes from two high-resolution displays, 7 inch as standard or optionally extra large at 10.25 inch.

The interior of the 2021 BMW 1 Series
The interior of the 2021 BMW 1 Series

Over in the BMW 1 Series, there has also been a significant revamp of the interior. With a strong influence from the larger 3 Series, the cabin is of fantastic quality. There are impossibly glam back lit trim elements among the driver-oriented cockpit, with all of BMW’s latest digital technology at your fingertips. It’s in its best iteration with the BMW Live Cockpit Professional incorporating a digital instrument panel and 10.25” Control Display. Another neat feature is the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, which allows you to alter the car’s settings, ventilation or find a list of local restaurants for example using a simple summons of ‘Hey BMW’. I wonder where they got that idea from...

How practical are they?

Much has been made of the 1 Series migration to a more space efficient front wheel drive layout. While many may lament the loss of BMW rear wheel drive from the 1 Series range, practicality does matter at this side of the market and the new platform reaps dividends in the new 1. Now adults will be able to sit more comfortably in the rear with much more competitive legroom than ever before. There is also more boot space. The boot capacity has been improved by 20 litres to 380 litres, now with a wider opening. An electrically operated tailgate is optionally available for the BMW 1 Series for the first time.

The new A-Class has a longer wheelbase than the previous generation of the car to improve interior space. There’s also more shoulder, elbow and headroom. The BMW and the Merc have a largish transmission tunnel and relatively narrow middle seat meaning both are more comfortable for two people. The A-Class boot has a capacity of 370 litres in the hatchback, while rear seats fold 40:20:40 as standard. It's 60:40 split as standard on the 1 Series. It's hard to split these two on interior space. Take one for a test drive and see if you can get comfortable!

The interior of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The interior of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Engine options

In Ireland, the new BMW 1 Series is sold with petrol and diesel engines at the time of writing. They include the 118i petrol (136 hp), 116d diesel (116 hp), 118d diesel (150 hp) or 120d diesel (190 hp). Manual and automatic transmissions are available. There's also the high performance 128ti with 265 hp and the M135i xdrive with 306 hp. At Changing Lanes we had the opportunity to test the new 118i, powered by a new three cylinder turbo petrol engine for the 1 Series. Power is a modest 136 hp but it's actually a sweet entry into the range.

The latest A-Class range includes two new four-cylinder petrol engines (1.3-litre A200 with 163 hp and 2.0-litre A250 with 224 hp) and a new four cylinder diesel (1.5-litre A180d with 116 hp). Manual and automatic transmissions are available. An entry level A160 with 109 hp is available too. You can also buy high performance versions of the A-Class: A35 (306 hp), A45 (387 hp) and A45 S (421 hp). At Changing Lanes we had the opportunity to test the A200 model powered by a 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine pushing out 163 hp. A nicely refined engine with a pleasant thump of power.

An A250e plug-in hybrid is to join the A-Class range in Ireland in 2021.

Why not try these for a test drive?

BMW 118i M Sport Auto. Priced from €40,202 (January 2021)

Mercedes-Benz A200 AMG Line. Priced from €42,888 (January 2021)

The new BMW 1 Series is available with petrol and diesel engines
The new BMW 1 Series is available with petrol and diesel engines

Driving them

Buyers should expect high end refinement and driving dynamics from such esteemed company.

Let's start with the new BMW 1 Series. The new 1 Series is up to 30 kg lighter than the car it replaces but more rigid. Is it enough to make up for the loss of rear wheel drive from the classic BMW compact? There's some help from ARB technology taken from the electric i3 and it is used in the new 1 Series for the first time in a combustion engined BMW. On the road this means that the 1 Series exhibits excellent stability and balance in cornering. There's an impressively tight turn in but the car lacks the outright sparkle and playfulness of the 3 Series for example. The steering just doesn’t translate the same sensations to your fingertips. Overall refinement is excellent and this car covers the tarmac well, despite the M Sport treatment giving a tad firmer ride. Long distance motorway cruising is very pleasant behind the wheel of the 1 Series. The 118i also does a fine job here for a three cylinder petrol engine. The engine feels lively enough and smooths out well at speed, with decent enough fuel economy. Gear changes through the new 7-speed automatic are well judged.

The new generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class is also front wheel drive, however it doesn't have the same reputation as BMW for sporty handling. Yet the new A-Class turns out to be a delight to drive, especially with one of the lively petrols like the A200. In fact the steering is so sharp and the body control so good that it's a very fine line between this and the new 1 Series.

Both cars come with their own version of driving modes as standard equipment.

Mercedes-Benz will add a plug-in hybrid to the A-Class range in 2021
Mercedes-Benz will add a plug-in hybrid to the A-Class range in 2021

Pricing and Equipment

The BMW 1 Series is available from €32,891 and comes in three trim levels: SE, Sport and M Sport. The entry level SE model has 16" alloys, air conditioning, multifunction steering wheel, front collision warning, lane depature warning, Drive Performance Control, cruise control and 8.8" control display with touch function and iDrive controller.

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is available from €31,080 and comes in Style, Progressive and AMG Line trim. Standard equipment includes 16" alloys, air conditioning, cruise control, digital instrument cluster and media display with touchscreen and MBUX infotainment, Dynamic Select, heated front seats, multifunction steering wheel, Active Lane Keeping Assist, part leather/cloth seats, and reversing camera.

So which are you buying?

Another tough call. Both the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class are a cut above your average hatchback with premium design, refinement and driving dynamics. And you will pay dearly for it too with the most desirable M Sport and AMG Line models asking for serious money.

The new BMW 1 Series has come on leaps and bounds for this new generation of the car. While we might shed a tear for the loss of the rear wheel drive, at least now the 1 Series can properly compete as a versatile hatchback. Inside the interior is such good quality, it's properly matured and feels like a bigger car. There is just one petrol engine at the entry to the range, but it does punch above its 136 hp. There are also a number of diesels to choose from.

The BMW 1 Series more competitive than ever
The BMW 1 Series more competitive than ever but is it enough?

Over at Mercedes, the new generation A-Class has spawned a number of derivatives like the CLA and GLB from its compact underpinnings. Each time we drive another derivative it's a reminder of what a wonderful car the new A-Class is. The interior is fantastic modern contemporary and hasn't aged at all. Mercedes' new petrol engines are also winners, particularly the A200.

It's for these combined reasons that this reviewer would be heading in the direction of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class in the premium compact space. Perhaps the 1 Series has lost the edge in the driving dynamics that would lead to a decisive YES, like the one we give the 3 Series in the class above. Did we have a bad time in the 1 Series? No not at all and we could really appreciate that beautiful tight turn in. The classic sensations just weren't there. But that cabin is wonderful. Front grille? Not sure.

The gap has indeed narrowed to the A-Class as the new generation of the car feels pure and agile, and the A200's 163 hp petrol engine is really fun in the A-Class. Then there's the cabin and the looks, so quietly sophisticated. Altogether it makes the Mercedes-Benz A-Class a winning package.

The new A-Class excels for its style, design and quality
The new A-Class excels for its style, design and quality

Want to find out more? Read our detailed review of each model compared here:

BMW 1 Series

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Looking for something a bit bigger? Check out our twin test of the BMW 3 Series vs Audi A4!

Caroline Kidd