Review

BMW 1 Series hatchback

Price  £20,930 - £32,540

BMW 1 Series hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Fantastic to drive
  • Frugal, powerful engines
  • Classy, high-quality interior
Cons
  • Big petrol engines pricey to run
  • Disappointing rear-seat space
  • Some rivals are cheaper

At a glance

Our Pick
118d Sport 5dr £24,540
The greenest
116d EfficientDynamics Plus 3dr £22,180
The cheapest
118i SE 3dr £20,930
The fastest
M135i 5dr £32,540
Top of the range
M135i 5dr £32,540

“The BMW 1 Series offers buyers a great-driving, high-quality entry-point into BMW ownership.”

Compared to the many other small premium hatchbacks, the BMW 1 Series has a trick up its sleeve. It's the only car in this class to come with rear-wheel drive as standard and this gives it the edge when it comes to delivering an enjoyable driving experience. That's not to say rivals like the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf are bad to drive – far from it, in fact – but the BMW manages to be even better.

It's not all about driving dynamics, however: contenders in this class have to exude the correct image, be desirable, have a premium-feeling interior and have a great range of engines that offer low running costs without compromising on performance. The 1 Series manages to balance all of these factors brilliantly. 

If you’re a company-car buyer with a keen eye on running costs, then the BMW 118d is the model to choose. It returns 70.6mpg and won’t cost you much in Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company car tax, either, as it sits in the 18% bracket. 

If you want even lower running costs, then you could go for the BMW 116d EfficientDynamics, which tops 83mpg and emits just 94g/km of CO2. This means it's in the 16% BiK tax bracket and won’t cost anything in road tax if you’re a private buyer. However, it doesn’t feel quite powerful enough to cope with day-to-day driving: the 118d has a nicer engine.

There are also a variety of petrols to choose from, ranging from frugal three-cylinders to powerful turbocharged six-cylinders. These return between 35.3 and 58.9mpg, which equates to CO2 emissions from 112 to 175g/km. 

There are four trim levels – SE, ED Plus, Sport and M Sport – all of which come pretty well equipped. Every version gets things like BMW's iDrive infotainment system, LED daytime running lights, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth phone connectivity, alloy wheels and a leather steering wheel. ED Plus adds various things to help improve fuel efficiency, while Sport and M Sport add various extra sporting touches. 

You shouldn’t be concerned about the 1 Series’ safety, either. Euro NCAP awarded it the full five stars and an impressive 91% for adult occupant protection. It comes with plenty of safety kit as standard. The 1 Series does have a slightly concerning reliability record, however, although it came comfortably in the top half for reliability in our 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3.8 / 5

The BMW 1 Series offers super-efficient diesels that can be free to tax, but excellent petrols are worth looking at, particularly for around-town drivers

Engines, drive & performance

4.7 / 5

The BMW 1 Series is the best car in the class to drive, with strong performance and good handling

Interior & comfort

3.4 / 5

Sporty handling means the BMW 1 Series isn’t quite as comfortable as its closest rivals

Practicality & boot space

3.4 / 5

Limited space for rear-seat passengers and luggage means it’s simply not as roomy as its rivals

Reliability & safety

4 / 5

The BMW 1 Series is very well put together and has an impeccable safety rating

What the others say

4 / 5
based on 4 reviews
4 / 5
"The BMW 1 Series has a great range of engines, is good to drive and comes with plenty of kit."
4 / 5
"The BMW 1 Series is one of the best small family cars you can buy because it's hugely desirable, good to drive and surprisingly cheap to run.."
7 / 10
"A brilliant premium hatch that appeals to both keen drivers and the economically minded."
4.5 / 5
“A redesigned dashboard, upgraded trim and a host of new design details make the interior feel a lot more upmarket and premium-feeling than the previous generation.”
What owners say 
4.1532786885246
4.2 /5 based on 244 reviews
58%
 of people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated 
22 Dec 2015
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