The launch of the all-new F40 BMW 1 Series is near. From previous reports, we know that the 1 Series will sit on the new FAAR front-wheel drive platform, and there’s also leaked photos of the hot M135i xDrive variant.

Armed with the same 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine from the X2 M35i, the hot hatch is said to boast an output of 306 PS and 450 Nm of torque. In the X2, the engine is married to an eight-speed automatic and xDrive all-wheel drive – it sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.9 seconds.

While there’s reason to believe that the M135i xDrive will be the F40’s crowning model, a report by Auto Express suggest that there would be an even hotter model to properly rival the Audi RS3 and Mercedes-AMG A 45. The latter is rumoured to receive up to 422 hp in A 45 S guise, while the “standard” A 45 may get around 390 hp.

While loyalists mourn the death of the rear-wheel drive 1er, some of the benefits of the FAAR platform include more interior space, improved rear legroom (up by 33 mm, headroom up by 19 mm), bigger boot space (380 litres, up 20 litres from before), as well as the ability to incorporate plug-in hybrid and full electric propulsion from the get-go.

Despite all the gains, BMW says the new 1 Series will set new standards for the class in terms of driving dynamics, offering greater agility via a new suspension setup, new technologies and the integration of all chassis components and control systems. BMW Group’s driving dynamics boss, Peter Langen said “our customers will directly feel the fast and precise responsiveness that provides for an optimised driving experience. The BMW 1 Series will be a genuine BMW with an individual character.”

One of the key highlights is actuator contiguous wheel slip limitation, or ARB – a feature that was first seen on the electric i3s. This advanced traction control system is integrated within the ECU itself rather than being linked to the stability control system, and the resulting lack of long signal paths means that its actuation is claimed to be three times faster than before (it actually feels like it’s 10 times faster, says BMW).

Working in tandem with the stability control, ARB reduces the power understeer usually found on front-wheel drive vehicles without any form of stabilising intervention. Agility is improved further with the BMW Performance Control torque vectoring by braking, while the use of additional stiffening struts – such as a rear-end “boomerang” strut – increases torsional rigidity.

From the images here, the new 1 Series will get the expected change in proportions, with a longer front overhang and shorter bonnet. The front end with its shapely trapezoidal headlights (with hexagonal “corona ring” daytime running lights) and inverted double kidney grille is reminiscent of the X2, while the rear gets broader two-piece tail lights and a number plate recess that has been moved into the tailgate.

The new 1 Series will be joined by a slew of new cars on the new FAAR architecture, headed by the recently-teased 2 Series Gran Coupé.