BMW unveiled the new F40 1 Series back in May, and for those who aren’t up to speed yet, the biggest change with the new model is the adoption of a front-wheel drive platform instead of a rear-wheel drive one like with the second-generation F20.

Beyond that big change that has purists up getting all worked up, the 1er also gets a complete redesign for its exterior and interior. Thankfully, we managed to get up close with the model during this year’s #NextGen showcase in Munich, so here’s a tour of the new 1 Series in its range-topping M135i xDrive and 118d M Sport variants.

The adoption of the FAAR (Frontantriebsarchitektur) platform does result in changes to the vehicle’s dimensions, as the 1er is now five mm shorter compared to the F20 at 4,319 mm. Additionally, the width is now 1,799 mm (+34 mm), the height now measures 1,434 mm (+13 mm), while the wheelbase has shrunk by 20 mm to 2,670 mm.

On the exterior, you’ll find a larger, conjoined kidney grille at the front and reshaped lighting units on a body that has less of a “bread van” look than before. The interior has also been transformed to be more upmarket, boasting familiar BMW technologies like the Live Cockpit and other design cues.

The oil burning variant packs a 2.0 litre four-cylinder powerplant that develops 150 PS (147 hp) and 350 Nm, but it’s the M135i xDrive that’s more exciting. The M Performance version gets a 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol unit that develops 306 PS (302 hp) and 450 Nm, paired with an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic and BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system.

Performance-wise, the variant will take just 4.8 seconds to complete the zero to 100 km/h, with an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h. The obvious rival here is the Mercedes-AMG A 35 4Matic, which by comparison, takes 4.7 seconds to complete the same century sprint. The A 35 uses a 2.0 litre turbo four-pot with 306 PS (302 hp) and 400 Nm, as well as a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

So, what do you think of the new 1 Series? Would you consider it to the Mercedes-Benz A-Class? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

GALLERY: F40 BMW M135i xDrive