BMW 1 Series coupe
Price: £24,265 - £34,250
- Fun to drive
- Punchy and efficient diesel engines
- Prestige badge
- High price-tag
- Rear seats are cramped
- Awkward styling
"The BMW 1-Series Coupe is a true junior BMW, diluting the brand's core value of luxury and sportiness into a compact package that is both fun to drive and cheap to run too."
Based on the previous 1 Series model, rather than on 2011's new hatchback, the BMW 1 Series coupe actually looks a bit awkward from some angles, with its profile in particular not really living up to BMW's style standards. But other than that, there's actually not very much to quibble about, with it offering a more involving driving experience that competitors such as the Audi TT and Volkswagen Scirocco. The driving position is very good and the range of engines is arguably one of the best on the market, with all engines offering class-leading economy combined with effective performance. And it's also slightly more practical, more comfortable and better to drive (thanks to its rear-wheel drive) than the hatchback model. The two-door 1 Series coupe comes in five specifications – entry-level SE, Exclusive, SE, M Sport and Sport Plus. The engines range from the base 118d model up to a 340bhp M Sport version.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Punchy performance and low-emitting diesels
Thanks to BMW's EfficientDynamics technology, which comes with stop-start, brake energy regeneration and low-rolling resistance tyres, the speedy diesels still manage to offer incredibly low running costs. The most frugal is the 118d diesel, which claims to return 62.8mpg and emit 119g/km of CO2. Alternatively, the 120d and 123d nearly match the 118d's fuel economy while offering superior performance, so are arguably better. A big but, however - you'll need deep pockets to keep some of the more expensive petrol engines running, so choose your 1 Series wisely.
Interior & comfort
Very comfortable, but noisy at times
Interestingly, in the same driving conditions that made the 1 Series hatchback feel very stiff and send it crashing over large potholes, the coupe model proves to be much more comfortable. What's even more pleasing is how well BMW have managed to limit the amount of body roll through corners while never sacrificing any of its ability to absorb any bumps in the road. It feels both comfy and sporty at the same time. Be aware, however, that if you’re dead set on any of the top-of-the-range models that their stiffer sports suspension does shift the balance away from the comfort end of the scale, favouring performance and driving thrills. However, whether idling on the driveway or zooming down the motorway, the 1 Series engines are all incredibly quiet. However, there does tend to be some noticeable levels of noise from the tyres when moving at high speeds, and also quite a lot of intrusive wind noise on the motorway, which is disappointing from even the lower end of a premium brand like BMW.
Practicality & boot space
A squeeze in the rear seats but surprisingly practical boot
You can’t really describe the BMW 1 Series coupe's compact interior as practical at all. It may well be more comfortable for passengers in the back than the hatchback model, with the back of the front seats specially moulded to create extra knee room, but it will still be an incredible squeeze for even mid-height adults. Shoulder room is better, but that's because there are only two seats in the back instead of three. Likewise, the boot may offer more than 40 litres of extra space compared to the hatchback, but it is still small with a total of 370 litres. The split-fold rear seats can be folded down 60:40 to make room for larger items, but the compact body limits its versatility.
Reliability & safety
Build quality not up to normally high standards, but reliability impresses
BMW certainly do make solid, reliable cars, but it only managed to place 15th in the manufacturers list in the 2013 Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey – the lowest ranking of any of the premium car companies, with Porsche, Audi, Mercedes, Jaguar and Lexus all placing higher. Meanwhile, the 1 Series itself came 54th in the top 100 cars, which is a disappointing debut, especially when you consider that most cars only go down year on year in such polls. There have been some small criticisms of the build quality inside the 1 Series, but only because it doesn't really live up to the (usually) universally high standards set by BMW. But, that said, it's still leagues ahead of any of its competitors in the segment. There have been no major issues and safety impresses too, with the hatchback model scoring a full five stars in the Euro NCAP crash safety test despite its small dimensions. It comes fitted with front, side and curtain airbags and electronic stability control as standard.
Engines, drive & performance
Punchy engines and great in corners
One of the best things about the 1 Series is that you can faithfully say that no matter which engine you pick you will get impressive performance, and this is true of the coupe as well. For the best of both worlds, the 120d diesel engine offers a superior blend of economy and performance, returning 60.1mpg and going from 0-62mpg in only 7.9 seconds. Obviously, if you want as much performance as possible, then the 135i can go from 0-62 in a very speedy 5.3 seconds. This version comes fitted with a firmer suspension set-up as standard, which improves its agility when cornering, but the trade off is that it's more uncomfortable on the UK's ever-worsening rough roads. Less powerful models are more comfortable because of their softer suspension, but are still surprisingly good fun to drive, thanks to the huge amounts of grip and confidence-giving steering that is available across the 1 Series range. Even the budget-priced 118d diesel engines get up to 60mph in less than 10 seconds.
Price, value for money & options
Light on standard equipment
BMW is not renowned for being a budget brand, so most of their cars don’t offer you a particularly long list of standard equipment and accessories. Basic equipment, such as alloy wheels, air-conditioning and electric windows, do come as standard, but if you want any extras, the list price is likely to go up pretty quickly. If you do throw caution to the wind and opt for the expensive sat-nav system, BMW's sophisticated iDrive system is also included, which allows buyers to control everything from the radio to the vehicle set-up from one place. And if the undeniably high initial list price does appear off-putting, it's worth bearing in mind that BMWs have particularly strong resale values on the used car market, so you’re likely to get a chunk of money back when go comes to make a deal to sell. Plus, the range of engines on offer are all fairly cheap to run.
What the others say
"It's not the best looking coupe around and lacks the svelte lines of alternatives like the Audi TT, but that doesn't prevent it from being great to drive..."
"Enjoyable to drive, thanks to communicative steering. Diesel versions are impressively frugal and the larger engines have plenty of power. Residual values will be solid and the driving position is spot-on"
Last updated: 28 Jan 2014