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Car trim reviews

BMW 1 Series Sport

"The BMW 1 Series Sport is aimed at keen drivers. It has a larger engine range than the SE and looks the part too."

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Sport trim introduces 17-inch alloy wheels to the 1 Series. It’s a popular choice among buyers because it makes the car look a bit more sporty, but many of those buyers subsequently go on to regret their decision. That’s because Sport models have run-flat tyres – which means the 1 Series does without a spare wheel. Unfortunately, these tyres have extremely stiff sidewalls, which means every lump of the UK’s bumpy roads can be felt in the cabin.

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Sport models are available with quite a few of the engines offered in the 1 Series – one 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine (120i), one 1.6-litre diesel (116d) and two versions of the 2.0-litre diesel (118d and 120d) – that drives the rear wheels, a unique feature in the compact hatchback class. All deliver strong performance with outstanding efficiency. There are a few styling changes to things like grilles, bumpers and the exhaust to give the car a bit more of a sporty look, and there are sports seats and instruments. You can even change the interior ambient lighting from orange to white. Other than that, though, all other equipment can be found on the lesser SE model.

Good points

Rear-wheel drive gives the 1 Series a unique feel in the compact hatchback class. Because the front wheels only have to steer, the car feels more alert and eager to change direction than the majority of its rivals. With the bigger wheels and tyres that come with Sport trim it feels even more grippy and delivers more feedback, too.All five engines are terrific, not only for performance but also economy, and there’s a slick manual gearbox or a smooth eight-speed automatic to choose from.Sport models are some of the sharpest-looking versions of the 1 Series and have the most comfortable front seats, too. Build quality of the latest model is way ahead of that of the old one.

Bad points

By far the worst aspect of the 1 Series Sport is the uncomfortable suspension on bumpy roads. The standard run-flat tyres have hardly any give in their sidewalls, so the car seems to be trying to pick a fight with every bump and pothole. This isn’t an easy car to live with on bumpy UK roads.It’s even more uncomfortable for rear-seat passengers, who have restricted legroom. Access to the back is awkward, thanks to the narrow doors, and the transmission tunnel leaves hardly any foot space for a fifth passenger.Sport versions cost nearly £1,300 more than their SE counterparts, and we’d question whether it’s money well spent.

What you get

  • Alloy wheels
  • Folding rear seats
  • Alarm
  • Tyre pressure sensors
  • Passenger & Driver airbag
  • Front side airbags
  • Curtain airbags
  • Front fog lights
  • Auto climate control
  • Leather steering wheel
  • Height adjustable driver's seat
  • Front electric windows
  • Single CD player
  • AUX stereo input
  • DAB Radio
  • Cruise control
  • Stop/Start
  • Automatic wipers
  • Sports seats
  • Bluetooth

Our choice

The 116i will be more beneficial for private buyers and the 118d will suite company car users better, as they can reap the tax benefits.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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