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The latest 1-Series codenamed E81 has been caught testing on UK roads, to help hone the chassis on UK roads. The new "Golf" rival hatchback is scheduled for it's premiere in autumn 2004. BMW hope to sell 30,000 a year in the UK with the starting price of £15,000. Prototypes will soon be decending on Welsh roads so that engineers can fine tune the chassis as BMW predicts the UK will be one of it's biggest markets. Four cylinder engines from the UK's Hams Hall plant iin Birmingham will be mounted North-South channeling power to the rear wheels. It will share some components with the forthcoming 3-Series including the suspension with MacPherson struts up front & trapezoidial link rear axle. Extensive use of Alluminium will help it achieve it's target weight of 1150kg for the 3-door hatch version. It will measure 4150mm long & should have a wheelbase of 2650mm. Boot space is said to be 270 litres with split rear seats to enlarge it's capacity to 1000 litres. The 1-Series will have wraparound lights at front & rear, with convex & concave body surfaces & strong shoulder line along it's flanks. Traditional kidney grill & the famous "Hofmeister kink" in the C-pillar are certainties to ensure it stands out. Base engine is the 1.6 litre up to 2.0 litre M2 (2-door variant) with 220 Bhp high-reving engine to nearly 9000 Rpm which should cover 0-60 mph in 5.0 secs, all manual engines will have 6-Speed gearbox & even a diesel engine will feature. Other features are likely to be carried over from the new 5-Series, like it's "tonned-down" iDrive & Active steering will be a £800 option. Production is due to start next summer at the Regensburg plant in Germany, with BMW hoping to build 180,000 units a year.

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