Claimed to have been "tailored specifically" to meet the demands of Chinese buyers, the sedan is the result of a joint venture between BMW and BMW Brilliance Automotive, with the newcomer set to slot below the 3-series as the marque's new entry-level sedan.
Measuring 4 456 mm in overall length with a height of 1 446 mm and width of 1 803 mm, the sedan rides on the same UKL front-wheel drive platform as the 2-series Active Tourer, X1 and Mini, with the biggest difference aside from the completely redesigned rear end being a unique dashboard.
Touted as being focused on the driver, the now trademark pistol-grip gear lever also makes way for a traditional gear selector, while the touchscreen infotainment display adopts a freestanding configuration instead of being integrated.
Underneath the skin, the 1-series has been optimised for comfort although drivers can alter this by virtue of the drive mode selector with three settings; Comfort, Eco Pro and Sport.
Power-wise, the 1-series will be offered in a choice of three turbo-petrol engines all linked to a Steptronic gearbox with paddle shifters.
Starting the range off, the base 118i uses the now familiar 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine from the Mini, making 100 kW and 220 N.m of torque. Linked to a six-speed 'box, BMW claims it will go from 0-100 km/h in 9.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 212 km/h. Fuel consumption is rated at 5.5 L/100 km and emissions at 132 g/km.
Slotting in the middle, the 120i makes do with a bigger 2.0-litre four-pot mated to a eight-speed 'box, with outputs of 141 kW and 280 N.m. Top speed is a claimed 235 km/h with the 0-100 km/h dash taking 7.5 seconds. Consumption is a claimed 6.2 L/100 km and emissions 148 g/km.
Capping the range off, the 125i uses the same engine and gearbox as the 120i, but with 170 kW and 350 N.m of torque on tap. As the most powerful model, the 125i will go from 0-100 km/h in 6.8 seconds and on to a limited top speed of 250 km/h. BMW claims a combined fuel consumption of 6.4 L/100 km and emissions of 152 g/km.
Standard safety and comfort tech consists of ventilation system developed specifically to suit the Chinese climate, automatic climate control with optimised acoustics and a wide range of options with Luxury and Sport Line trims also offered.