BMW looking to burnish reputation with 1 Series

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BMW looking to burnish reputation with 1 Series


BMW’s new 1 Series five-door hatchback. Provided by the company

BMW is looking to cement its status as the No. 1 foreign auto brand in Korea as it sets to stir up the compact-sized car segment with its new 1 Series five-door hatchback.

It sold 21,559 vehicles in Korea in the first nine months of this year to make up 22.53 percent of foreign car sales here, according to data from Korea Automobile Importers and Distribution Association.

The figure easily beats rival Mercedes-Benz, which only shifted 15,318 units.

BMW’s car sales have been concentrated on mid- and full-size segments. Its top-selling model at present is the 520d. The mid-size diesel sedan sold 5,761 units this year to top all imported cars in Korea.

However, with release of the rear-wheel-drive (RWD) hatchback, the carmaker is confident it can also dominate the compact segment and eclipse the Volkswagen Golf, which now ranks seventh among foreign car sales this year.

Industry insiders say they see VW’s third-generation Beetle, which went on sale from Monday, as a potential sales blocker for the 1 Series.

BMW Korea said it expects to attract more young drivers in Korea with the cheaper hatchback.

The German automaker also has high hopes that the temporary tax cut on its vehicles will attract more consumers. The government on Sept. 11 announced it would lower the consumption tax on automobiles 1.5 percentage points in hopes of boosting spending.

The five-door model, which is expected to hit the local market next Thursday, will cost less than 40 million won ($36,010), which would make it the cheapest BMW model in Korea.

“The hatchback is expected to see steady sales in Korea due to its price competitiveness,” an employee from BMW Korea said. “The new model is sporty and has better fuel efficiency than the previous version. It also offers other upgraded features.”

The new model also provides more space for drivers and passengers as it is longer and wider with a broader wheelbase than the previous incarnation.

Its trunk size has also been increased from 330 liters (87 gallons) to 360 liters. The hatchback is also the only?RWD?in its class.

“The new 1 Series is equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission, which is the world’s first in the compact class,” BMW Korea said. “It also uses our dynamic traction control and driving stability control technologies to improve performance.”

All new 1 Series engines are equipped with twin turbos. The fuel-injected 1.6-liter 116i can generate 136 horsepower, while the 118i offers 170 horsepower.

The 120d, a diesel, dials in at 184 horsepower. Yet fuel efficiency remains impressive. Buyers can add luxury options including adaptive headlights, parking assist and warning signals to keep drivers in the right lane.

“With upgraded features and our new infotainment system, it can offer motorists a more pleasurable driving experience,” the company said.

By Joo Kyung-don []

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