When BMW shocked the automotive world by deciding to break up and sell off the Rover Group in 2000, the reason it gave surprised many. BMW said the move was triggered to the decision to build a new Golf size vehicle under the BMW rather than the Rover badge. The upshot was that Rover was no longer part of BMW’s future plans. Work on the small Rover R30 had been underway at BMW in Munich for two years. However, many at BMW had been lobbing for BMW to build its own compact model. Some have claimed that BMW utilized work already completed on the R30 to get the 1 Series project off to a flying start, with the core of the R30, from the widescreen backwards, carried over to the baby BMW. Even if true, the 1 Series needed a new nose structure to accommodate a longitudinally mounted engine because it was rear wheel drive, like all BMW’s road cars. The world got its first glimpse of the 1 Series project in the form of the 2002 CS1 cabrio concept. Although the size was reminiscent of the classic 1980s E30 3 Series, the new design language was a shock.
Initially dubbed ‘flame surfacing’ it saw CS1 sides given dramatic concave and convex surface, partly inspired by natural erosion. Not everybody appreciated this when it was made production really in the 2004 1 Series five door. It was, though, sharp handling and well made with a smart interior, if a little cramped and stiff riding. But had another sales hit n its hands, and the 1 Series was expanded to include a coupe and cabrio.