BMW is said to be planning a new take on its performance 1 Series variant next year, with a 400hp hybrid model waiting in the wings. The M140e will offer the broadest mix of performance and efficiency in the 1 Series line-up by combining BMW’s M-fettled turbocharged 2.0-litre with a battery-fed electric motor, providing 70 miles of zero-emission range – and arguably creating the first plug-in hybrid of genuine hot hatch calibre.
That’s according to a report by Automobile Magazine, which said the four-cylinder petrol – presumably the 2.0 from the upcoming M135i xDrive – will use water injection technology, with the electric hardware contributing 80hp to its punch thanks to a 35kWh battery pack. Total output is pegged at 400hp and 369lb ft of torque, which would make the five-door M140e about as potent as the Mercedes-AMG A45.
Like AMG, the M140e will use all-wheel drive, although it’s likely the electric motor will drive through the gearbox rather than provide direct twist to the back axle. There’s also a good chance that BMW will equip the model with something to rival the AMG’s drift mode and offer the flexibility (aka oversteer) delivered in the M5 and upcoming M3/M4. With the instantaneous torque provided by that electric motor, the prospect is certainly an exciting one.
Will that be enough to appease fans of the departed six-cylinder, rear-driven M140i? Probably not, because many of us loved that car (and could forgive its foibles) thanks to its comparably old school operation. But in a world where 0-62mph times and electric ranges are dominating new car specs sheets, an M140e would seem to fit the bill rather nicely. Anyway, for those who prefect things a little simpler, the 306hp pure petrol-powered M135i xDrive is not far from rivalling the AMG A35. Alternatively, £25k will get you a nearly new six-pot…