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Introduction
BMW already offers more different size and shapes of cars and SUVs than at any time in its history, and the North American debut of the 2008 BMW 1 Series signals another attempt to provide the sporty-minded buyer on a budget a car that he or she will really enjoy driving.

For its U.S. debut, BMW is adding a two-door coupe to the lineup, which will arrive at BMW dealerships in the first quarter of 2008, and a two-door convertible, which is expected to arrive just in time for summer weather. (The BMW 1 Series has been available in Europe and other markets for more than a year in three-door hatchback and five-door hatchback body styles.)

The 1 Series is currently offered with two diesel and three gasoline engines in most markets, but initially the U.S. will get only the full-dress, high-performance coupe, the BMW 135i, which offers more than 300 horsepower. This will be followed later on by a slightly less frenetic BMW 128i with a 230-hp inline-6 engine and nearly all of the same amenities as the 135i will have, for about $5000 less.

The 1 Series is about seven inches shorter overall than the next car up in the lineup, the popular 3 Series. The 1 Series wheelbase is four inches shorter than that of the 3 Series, and it's slightly narrower in width. The 1 Series is meant to be a serious, sporty competitor to all the front-wheel-drive Japanese, Korean, and domestic cars in the entry luxury coupe class. BMW brings its highly developed rear-wheel-drive platform to the fight.
   
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In many ways, the 1 Series is nothing more or less than a scaled-down coupe version of the 3 Series two-door coupe, with similar looks, similar equipment and similar performance and handling because it uses many of the same components and systems, including the big twin-turbocharged engine that was introduced last year in the 335i, so the 135i is a smaller, lighter package with the same engine for about $4000 less starting money, said to be starting around $35,000.

The 1 Series convertibles will feature soft tops expected to be of the level of quality of the previous-generation 3 Series, which is to say top quality with three-layer sound insulation.

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