What Are You Doing Here? Chinese BMW 1 Series Spotted in the U.S.

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
what are em you em doing here chinese bmw 1 series spotted in the u s

With the 2020 BMW 1 Series having debuted (as a hatchback) earlier this year, we knew a new sedan was en route. In fact, spy shots of the vehicle started cropping up in Europe and China almost immediately. However, that particular vehicle turned out to be a refresh of the Chinese-made 1 Series (F52). But it wasn’t of much concern to us. Here in the United States, the smallest modern BMW sedan to grace our shores (at least until the 2 Series Gran Coupe arrives) is the 3 Series… or is it?

Delivering to us a bit of a head-scratcher, a friend of the site offered up a handful of photographs of a Chinese-market 1 Series donned in camouflage. The twist? It was sitting inside of a warehouse located on our East Coast and not halfway around the world.

Though a quick scan of the VIN revealed the car’s origin, it doesn’t even begin to explain why the front-wheel drive Bimmer is in North America. The car is in question is a BMW 118i, packed with a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission — making it a rare find in this part of the globe.

Has it simply lost its way in a shipping mishap? Was some Chinese importer/exporter desperate to sneak one inside the United States? Or is BMW bringing it here for some, yet unknown, official purpose? What’s the point of camouflaging a pre-refresh model? We’ll see if we can pry some answers from the manufacturer but you’re free to speculate in the meantime.

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9 of 39 comments
  • Nick_515 Nick_515 on Jul 27, 2019

    While I have no interest in this FWD 1 series, I would have loved for BMW to bring the previous gen five door RWD 1 series to the US. For the past year I have been driving a hatchback A3, and in many ways it is a lovely car. That 2.0T is a little wonder. But I make several long trips a year, and the Audi is not quite in its element maintaining 80+ for hours on end in terms of NVH. How can I get most of that with even better highway ease in the same size and format? Too bad we only got the two door version.

    • See 6 previous
    • Lockstops Lockstops on Jul 30, 2019

      @Art Vandelay I was referring to the OP in this thread that begins: "While I have no interest in this FWD 1 series, I would have loved for BMW to bring the previous gen five door RWD 1 series to the US." The subject here was F20 1-series which is RWD. I agree that the FWD BMWs are crap. Actually I don't even care to evaluate them or waste time thinking about them, FWD crap does not interest me in any way.

  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Jul 29, 2019

    Chinese-made BMWs? These should make the Yugo look good.

  • Bd2 Other way around.Giorgetto Giugiaro penned the Pony Coupe during the early 1970s and later used its wedge shape as the basis for the M1 and then the DMC-12.The 3G Supra was just one of many Japanese coupes to adopt the wedge shape (actually was one of the later ones).The Mitsubishi Starion, Nissan 300ZX, etc.
  • Tassos I also want one of the idiots who support the ban to explain to me how it will work.Suppose sometime (2035 or later) you cannot buy a new ICE vehicle in the UK.Q1: Will this lead to a ICE fleet resembling that of CUBA, with 100 year old '56 Chevys eventually? (in that case, just calculate the horrible extra pollution due to keeping 100 year old cars on the road)Q2: Will people be able to buy PARTS for their old cars FOREVER?Q3: Will people be allowed to jump across the Channel and buy a nice ICE in France, Germany (who makes the best cars anyway), or any place else that still sells them, and then use it in the UK?
  • Tassos Bans are ridiculous and undemocratic and smell of Middle Ages and the Inquisition. Even 2035 is hardly any better than 2030.The ALMIGHTY CONSUMER should decide, not... CARB, preferably WITHOUT the Government messing with the playing field.And if the usual clueless idiots read this and offer the tired "But Government subsidizes the oil industry too", will they EVER learn that those MINISCULE (compared to the TRILLIONS of $ size of this industry) subsidies were designed to help the SMALL Oil producers defend themselves against the "Big Oil" multinationals. Ask ANY major Oil co CEO and he will gladly tell you that you can take those tiny subsidies and shove them.
  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)
  • AMcA Phoenix. Awful. The roads are huge and wide, with dedicated lanes for turning, always. Requires no attention to what you're doing. The roads are idiot proofed, so all the idiots drive - they have no choice, because everything is so spread out.