BMW has released a handful of images showing prototype versions of its third-generation 1 Series hatchback undergoing testing, while also confirming the flagship M135i derivative’s peak power output.

The Munich-based firm says the M135i will benefit from the most powerful BMW Group four-cylinder engine available, with the turbocharged 2,0-litre petrol unit offering 225 kW (so, matching the peak output of the Mercedes-AMG A35 hatch). This engine, of course, is already used in the X2 M35i, where it offers 450 N.m. It'll likely also be employed by the upcoming Mini John Cooper Works GP.

Of course, the new 1 Series hatch will shift to a front-wheel-drive platform for its third generation, but the M135i will be fitted with the brand’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system, giving it “extremely dynamic handling properties”, according to BMW.

The images of camouflaged pre-series vehicles you see here were taken at BMW’s proving ground in Miramas, France.

“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,” said Peter Langen, head of driving dynamics at the BMW Group.

Interestingly, the automaker says the new 1 Series will gain actuator contiguous wheel slip limitation (ARB) technology from the electric BMW i3s, featuring a slip control system positioned directly in the engine control unit instead of in the control unit for the dynamic stability control.

BMW furthermore claims the new 1 Series will take a “major leap forward” in terms of interior space. Thanks to its front-wheel drive architecture and use of transverse engines, there will be “noticeably more space” at the rear. Indeed, legroom for rear passengers has increased by 33 mm and headroom by 19 mm, the firm says. The luggage compartment, meanwhile, has gained 20 litres to 380 litres.