Independent review by Peter Hayward from Driving Force
- Great fun to drive
- Built to a high standard
- Variety of powertrains
- Sportier models sacrifice comfort
- Not the most spacious
- Rivals are less expensive
What's the BMW 1 Series like?
The BMW 1 Series is about the size of a Ford Focus and is the cheapest way to own one of the German marque’s cars.
It’s the only rear-wheel drive small hatchback on the market and manages to retain all the verve and fun of the 3 Series it’s based on.
There are coupé and cabriolet versions but here I’m going to concentrate on the much bigger selling 3 and 5-door hatch.
Even the lowest powered petrol model built between 2011 and 2019, the 100bhp 1.6-litre petrol, offers plenty of fun and other petrol engines in the range just get quicker and quicker.
But bear in mind that rear headroom and legroom are pretty limited compared to most other cars of a similar size and the boot is also fairly small.
There are various trim levels and only some engines available with each, so make sure to get the one you want. And because there are so many engine variations over the model’s lifetime, I will give the figures for the main ones only.
That 1.6-litre petrol started out as a 1.8-litre and was latterly a 2.0-litre, with between 100 and 134bhp. It was then replaced by a new 1.5-litre unit borrowed from MINI.
Higher up the range is a 2.0-litre with 180 to 220bhp and a 3.0-litre with between 321 and 335bhp.
The original 1.6-litre covers the 0 to 60mph sprint in 10.8 seconds and has best economy of 40mpg.
The 134bhp 2.0-litre gets to 60mph in 8.2 seconds and could average 35mpg, while the 135i with 335bhp storms to 60mph in 4.9 seconds, but is only likely to do 27mpg.
BMW’s diesels are excellent as well of course, although the purity of the driving experience is not quite up to the same mark.
Diesel models started with a 1.6-litre designated 114d that had 93bhp and then came a 114bhp version of the same engine. These were superseded by a 1.5-litre unit with 114bhp. There's also a 2.0-litre with between 114 and 220bhp.
The 116d with 114bhp is rated at no less than 74mpg and does 0 to 60mph in 10.2 seconds, while the 187bhp 2.0-litre has a government figure of 60mpg and only takes 7.0 seconds for the sprint.
Driving Experience and Equipment
The handling is brilliant in all models and the road holding absolutely superb. Make no mistake, this is a fantastic drivers’ car but in a smaller package, with all the tremendous balance and verve of the company’s larger models.
One word of warning though. Most models have an excellent ride as well as superb handling, but the ‘M’ and M-Performance models have stiffer suspension and this does affect the comfort adversely.
It's a highly sought-after model thanks to good reliability, reducing the chances of issues in the long run.
The BMW 1 Series has a superb dash, top quality trim and a host of lovely design details that make the interior feel very upmarket.
The driving environment, despite everything being rather sombre black in most, is excellent, with very good supportive seats and everything perfectly to hand.
Base ES models gets aircon, start stop, alarm and traction control, along with folding rear seats, excellent seat adjustment and the usual electric windows and mirrors and remote locking.
There was also a range of optional equipment to choose from when new, so keep an eye out for examples with additional kit.
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Find your BMW 1 Series your way with CarStore
If you're in the market for a premium hatchback that's engaging and suited to a wide variety of needs then you'll want to seriously consider the BMW 1 Series. Coming with a variety of handy tech and a luxurious cabin, the 1 Series definitely possesses the usual BMW traits.
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