BMW is giving its entry-level hatchback an update to keep it fresh against the redesigned Audi A3.

Photographers have captured what appear to be prototypes of the facelifted BMW 1 Series hatchback for the first time.

These heavily camouflaged vehicles were parked in a lot beside a Mini Clubman, with which the 1 Series shares a platform.

Our spy photographers believe road testing of the updated 1 Series will start soon, which points to a potential debut in 2023.

The current generation 1 Series was revealed in 2019 and launched locally the year after.

It’s unclear if BMW will update the engine line-up in this facelifted model. In Australia, the 1 Series range is currently powered exclusively by turbocharged petrol engines.

118i models are powered by a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine producing 103kW of power and 220Nm of torque, mated with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, while the 128ti uses a 2.0-litre turbo four with 180kW, 380Nm and an eight-speed torque-converter automatic.

Only the M135i xDrive Pure and M135i xDrive models are all-wheel drive, and produce 225kW and 450Nm. They also use an eight-speed auto.

In other markets there’s also a range of three- and four-cylinder turbo-diesel powertrains available.

It’s unclear at this stage but BMW could introduce a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain to the 1 Series as well.

The German automaker locally offers a PHEV powertrain in the 3 Series, 5 Series, 7 Series, X3 and X5, while the rival Mercedes-Benz A-Class is offered in PHEV form.

An all-electric version is less likely, at least for this generation, though there’s a hole in BMW’s line-up where the quirky i3 sat before it was discontinued locally.

From the front, these facelifted BMW 1 Series prototypes seem to have a redesigned front fascia with slimmer and rounder headlights.

There’s a large radar box that appears to bridge the gap between the kidney grille sections. These grille inserts seem to be a similar size as the exisiting 1er.

The rear of these 1 Series prototypes is still covered in a lot of camouflage. The main difference is a redesigned rear bumper, and we should expect to see updated tail lights, too.

We’ve yet to see a photo of the interior but the facelifted 1 Series could be yet another BMW to receive a “curved dash”, with the digital instrument cluster and infotainment touchscreen contained in one wraparound assembly.

BMW is rolling out this design feature across its range, though the previously spied next-generation X1 prototype’s dual screen set-up appears to be smaller than those in the i4 and iX.

These two all-electric BMW models have a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

The third-generation F40 1 Series has been on sale in Australia since 2019. It’s the first generation of 1 Series to use the UKL2 front-/all-wheel drive architecture, with all previous generations using a rear-wheel drive platform.

This UKL2 platform is also used on the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, X1 and X2, as well as the Mini Countryman and Clubman.

Since the launch of the current generation, BMW has introduced the hot front-wheel drive 128ti and has revealed a tweaked M135i xDrive variant.

Due in the first quarter of 2022, the updated M135i xDrive receives more camber on the front wheels, a new mount for the front suspension wishbones, redesigned mounts for the rear trailing and control arms, and a new exhaust system. Nothing has changed under the bonnet though.

MORE: Everything BMW 1 Series

Jack Quick

Jack Quick is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne. Jack studied journalism and photography at Deakin University in Burwood, and previously represented the university in dance nationally. In his spare time, he loves to pump Charli XCX and play a bit of Grand Theft Auto. He’s also the proud owner of a blue, manual 2020 Suzuki Jimny.

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