"Convertible 1 Series is stylish and well made, while it handles as well as the rest of the range."
The BMW 1 Series Convertible is a stylish, well-made four seater convertible that delivers almost all of the Coupe's excellent driving characteristics. It's fitted with considerable chassis stiffening measures, but BMW's smallest convertible is comfortable, even on roughly surfaced roads. Available with a selection of BMW's brilliant 1 Series engines, including the very economical 120d unit, the baby BMW convertible comes in ES, SE and M Sport trims. Despite some shiny interior finishes, the cabin is well made, but it can feel a little dark with the roof up.
All BMW 1 Series models are fantastic to drive, and the Convertible loses very little to the Coupe, but with the added bonus of open-air thrills. Many convertible cars suffer from shake or irritating rattles on poorly surfaced roads, but the 1 Series displays great rigidity. The rear-wheel-drive chassis and standard manual gearbox are enjoyable to use whether you're on a twisty back road or on the motorway. The 135i M Sport model is hugely powerful and can go from 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds.
The 1 Series Convertible strikes a good balance between soaking up bumps and limiting body roll for sporty handling, although the range-topping M Sport models are more uncomfortable thanks to their sports suspension and large alloy wheels. All of the engines are quiet, while the 1 Series has less wind noise with the roof down than an Audi A3 Cabriolet. A wind deflector that clips across the rear seats reduces wind buffeting, although it makes the 1 Series a two-seater. Plus, it's an option across the range - all bar the entry-level A3 Cabrio get a wind deflector as standard.
High quality is a common BMW trait, and the 1 Series Convertible is no different. It feels very strong for an open-top car, and even though this model has never been crash tested, the hatchback version achieved the full five-star rating from the experts at Euro NCAP. BMW reliability is also very high, so no worries here. Four airbags come fitted as standard and roll hoops hidden behind the rear seats pop-out instantly if the car's electronics detect that the car is going to roll over.
The biggest practicality issue with the 1 Series Convertible are the cramped rear seats. They offer very limited headroom when the roof is up, and taller passengers soon become uncomfortable in the back. Also, even though the roof folds neatly into a 45-litre compartment, boot space is reduced to 260 litres with the roof down, which is average for this segment. The roof takes a lengthy 22 seconds to fold away, but can be operated at speeds of up to 31mph.
Value for money
The 1 Series is priced higher than many of its rivals, including the Volkswagen Eos and Renault Megane C-C, but it offers class-leading road manners and a range of excellent fuel-efficient engines. Standard equipment is quite poor considering the asking price, but all models get air conditioning and a USB port as standard. Top-spec M Sport models are loaded with kit, including a leather sports steering wheel, sports seats, larger 17-inch alloy wheels and sports suspension.
Popular 120d diesel models offer both strong performance and low running costs. BMW list fuel consumption of 58.9mpg for this particualr model, while emssions of 127g/km for the 120d SE model mean annual Road Tax bills are low. When you buy the car, you can add a 50,000-mile all-inclusive service package for a few hundred pounds, which represents very good value.