In-depth reviews

BMW 1 Series hatchback review

"The BMW 1 Series offers comfort, luxury and driving enjoyment in a practical hatchback shape"

Carbuyer Rating

4.2 out of 5

Owners Rating

5.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Great to drive
  • More space
  • Excellent interior

Cons

  • Tight rear headroom
  • Only one petrol
  • Expensive options

The BMW 1 Series has been around for three generations but the current version is significantly different from the models that went before it. Previous versions were all rear-wheel drive but now the car is front-wheel drive (and some versions have four-wheel drive).

Top 10 best luxury small cars 2021

The exterior looks reflect this, as it appears more like rival models such as the Volkswagen Golf and Mercedes A-Class. The previous versions were designed with handling in mind - enthusiasts often prefer rear-wheel-drive cars - but this new model is still good to drive. The move to front-wheel drive has benefits for interior space and efficiency.

The interior is as smart as you would expect of any BMW, with high-quality materials in key places. The seats are very comfortable and well-placed for a comfy driving position, plus there’s lots of tech available as well. You get an 8.8-inch iDrive infotainment touchscreen as standard with Apple CarPlay, plus there’s a digital instrument panel and 10.25-inch central touchscreen display on some models.

There’s more shoulder room and legroom in the back than before, plus since all models have five doors - there’s no two-door model this time - access is a lot better now. Unfortunately it’s not all good news; headroom is still an issue in the back, as adults over six feet will feel a bit cramped there. There’s a decent 380 litres of boot space, which is exactly the same as in the Volkswagen Golf.

The BMW’s move to front-wheel drive might be disappointing for some drivers but the BMW is still one of the best cars in its class to drive. The handling is fun and engaging, plus the engine range is excellent - there’s no bad choice - and you can choose from an eight-speed automatic or a six-speed manual gearbox. 

The addition of the sporty 128ti and M135i models expanded the range further still, making BMW’s smallest model a genuine rival to the likes of the VW Golf GTI and Mercedes-AMG A35. Across the range, the 1 Series is a car that's as refined and comfortable as it is composed on faster twisting roads, feeling a lot like the BMW 3 Series from behind the wheel.

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