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Car trim reviews

BMW 1 Series Urban

BMW 1 Series Urban models offer so many options that BMW claims there are more than 6,000 personalisation combinations. This trim is focused on luxury.

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A few years ago, BMW cottoned on to the idea that allowing buyers to personalise their cars to the hilt could be a real money-spinner. It’s been such a success with its MINI brand that other manufacturers have been falling over themselves to follow suit. Now BMW is doing the same with the 1 Series Urban. It has unique 17-inch alloy wheels, a chrome grille and white exterior trim. The seat cloth is unique, and there’s black or white acrylic glass interior trim and silver accents. There are door sill finishers with ‘Urban’ script and sports seats, plus a host of options. Beneath the warpaint is a car that’s pretty much the same as the 1 Series Sport. It offers two 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engines and three 2.0-litre turbodiesels. They drive the rear wheels – the opposite of every other compact hatchback in the UK – and run-flat tyres are standard. Prices are identical to those of the equivalent Sport model.

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Good points

The best thing about the 1 Series is the way it drives. With five excellent engines, rear-wheel drive, a chassis that’s much improved over that of the previous model and big 17-inch alloy wheels to steer it and transmit its power to the road, it lives up to the ‘ultimate driving machine’ tag that BMW applies to its cars. Yet despite this sporting prowess, it has the fuel economy of a supermini, so you really can have your cake and eat it. No doubt lots of people will enjoy dabbling with the personalisation options to create a bespoke car, too. BMW’s strong image will keep resale values high, and the quality of the interior now lives up to what’s expected of a premium car.

Bad points

Be careful what you choose from the many options available. It’s easy to rack up a big bill, and one day you’re going to want to sell the car. Anything too outlandish might be hard to shift when you come to sell the car on. The ride is uncompromising because of the run-flat tyres, and interior space isn’t great, either. There’s insufficient rear legroom and access through the narrow rear doors is awkward. The transmission tunnel leaves no foot space for the middle passenger, too.

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
  • Full leather seats
  • Leather steering wheel
  • Height adjustable driver's seat
  • Front electric windows
  • Single CD player
  • AUX stereo input
  • Cruise control
  • Sat nav
  • Stop/Start

Recommended optional extras

  • Leather seats
  • Cruise control with brake function

Our choice

The 116i delivers warm hatch performance with supermini fuel consumption, although we could understand if company car drivers opted for the diesel 118d instead.

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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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