BMW 120d M Sport with Alpina detailing. 2 litre 177bhp. Lovely car to drive. 18 inch dished Alpina alloys. Full ivory leather interior with gloss black trim. Very rare Aero msport bodykit. 6 speed manual. MB QUARTS speaker system. New discs and pads all around. 4 new tyres. New NCT and 3 months tax. You will not see another 1 series like this on the road. Real head turner. No swaps or test pilots.
A level for all
Poised and agile
It’s OK for kids
Top safety spec
Appealing looks, fine chassis, broad range.
Still no M
Do we need an M?
Numb steering, 'box
A little cramped
New technology costs
Could be better
Bland backside, useless rear seats, so-so spec.
The 5-door remains largely unchanged but the addition of a nicely executed 3-door model does improve its youth appeal somewhat. The 1-Series coupe is has a curiously upright glasshouse that works superbly well with the 1-Series front and new rear end.
The 116i is gutless so the 118i or 120i are much better bets. The 120d and 123d are both surprisingly quick but the 130i's pace is eye-widening. The twin-turbo 135i Coupe will be staggeringly fast and we hear an M version with the 3.2 straight-six could be coming too.
The 1-Series is a lot sportier to drive than its front-drive Audi and Mercedes rivals thanks to a fast steering is fast and balanced chassis, but it’s ruined by the numb steering and rubbery gearboxes. The ride is firm, too, but the coupe does seem more compliant.
Like the 3-Series on which it's based, the 1's cabin has excellent ergonomics, a wonderful driving position, great dials and now eight programmable buttons so i-Drive (optional with Sat Nav) can be avoided. It's narrower than the 3, though, so it can feel a little cramped.
The 1-Series, like the 3, feels very solidly made and is mechanically very tough. The ride is firm but comfortable and pretty refined unless you plum for too-big wheels and a sport suspension.
The 5 NCAP star 1-Series has six airbags, ISOFIX child seat mounts, seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters, ESP and emergency brake lights as standard. Automatic lights and wipers and parking aids are also offered.
With all that axle under the rear seat it's unsurprising it's ridiculously tight in the back of the 1-Series. Legroom is very poor, headroom isn’t much better and the boot is quite tight, too.Getting in and out of the 3-door takes work but the coupe is just as roomy as the hatch and feels airier.
The 1-Series is very expensive for such a small car and even at that equipment levels are rather sparse. Residuals aren't great even if you opt for a 116i or 120d with intelligent options. Running costs are low, though, and VRT Changes should make diesels a LOT more affordable and popular.
Basic models now have six airbags, electric windows, remote locks, a CD player, air conditioning and 16-inch steel wheels. Alloys aren't too expensive to add but cupholders, Bluetooth, leather, parking sensors - the options list is endless.
The 115hp 1.6 116i is best avoided - the 143hp 118i or 170hp 120i (both 2.0) are much better if rough sounding. The 120d (177hp/350Nm 2.0 diesel) and 123d (204hp/400Nm 2.0 diesel) are the best all-rounders while 265hp/315Nm 3.0 6-cylinder 130i is mad. New 306hp 135i is totally barking!