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BMW 1 Series Review

Find out more about the BMW 1 Series in the latest Review

Average Price
Out of 5


  • Pleasant to drive
  • Engines are efficient
  • Good quality interior


  • Expensive compared to rivals
  • Comparatively lacking in space
  • Not good looking
  • MPG

    41 - 74

  • CO2

    100 - 154 g/km

Model Review

The first generation of 1 Series made its debut in 2004. More than 20 years on and it’s now in its second-generation and an established model of hatchback.

BMW designed the 1 Series to contend against premium hatchbacks such as the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class, as opposed to the Volkswagen Golf and other less expensive cars.

The 1 Series has always been rather unique in that it has a longitudinally mounted engine and is rear-wheel drive, both of which are unusual features in a hatchback.

Latest model

The current generation of 1 Series first appeared in 2011 and received a major facelift in 2014.

In terms of appearance, the current generation of 1 Series is not overly different to its predecessor. It’s slightly boxier and more aggressive-looking, but there has been no dramatic styling change.

The 1 Series is available with a variety of petrol and diesel engines, all of which serve their purpose without any issues and are more efficient than those that came before.

The large number of diesel engines means it isn’t difficult to find a 1 Series capable of around 68mpg.

Motorists looking for a high-performance 1 Series should go for the M140i, which produces 335bhp – 14bhp more than the previous model.

The most noticeable difference between the first and second generation cars is quite possibly the interior. The original had a very dull cabin and only the most basic features. The newer model is far more advanced inside, both technologically and aesthetically.

Value for money

With prices ranging from £20,930 for the 118i SE to £32,405 for the M140i, the 1 Series cannot be described as inexpensive. The cost difference between the lower and higher spec models will buy you more performance-wise and will also get you some sporty bits of trim inside and out, but nothing drastic.

In terms of the second hand market, the first generation model is unsurprisingly the cheaper option by far, with good condition ones starting at around £1,000.

However, a high spec first generation is no more well equipped than a basic version of its second generation descendent, which starts at around £5,000.


Looks and image

The 1 Series has never been stunning to look at, with its visual qualities being, at best, boring or, at worst, ugly. Fortunately, the consensus is that the current generation has slightly moved away from the latter derogation, which is another argument for second-hand buyers forking out the extra cash.

Driving appeal is doubtless the main appeal of the 1 Series. All of the engines have a generous helping of power, while still conforming to expectations of economy. The car corners precisely and grips the road well.

Overall, the handling is good but nothing special. Rear-wheel drive has not damaged the BMW’s credibility in this category. It has also been said that the six-speed manual gearbox takes some getting used to. The automatic is nothing out of the ordinary.

Space and practicality

As a result of its uncommon layout, the 1 Series does have some problems when it comes to space and practicality. The longitudinally mounted engine reduces the amount of room in the cabin, for which rear legroom loses out.

The other problem is caused by the rear-while drive system, the position of which reduces the available boot space.



The 1 Series offers several different engines, both petrol and diesel. The 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine produces 134bhp, is capable of up to 57mpg and emits 116g/km of CO2. The 1.5-litre diesel engine only has three cylinders and 114bhp, but achieves up to 83mpg. Its CO2 emissions are 94g/km.

The 2.0-litre diesel produces between 114bhp and 181bhp, achieves around 60-74mpg and emits 109g/km of CO2. Meanwhile, the 2.0-litre petrol has an output of 181bhp and is capable of up to 47mpg. It emits 138g/km of CO2.

Finally, the six-cylinder 3.0-litre petrol engine found in the M140i produces 335bhp and achieves up to 36mpg. The eight-speed automatic transmission aids it in quick acceleration. Its CO2 emissions are 179g/km.


Running costs

Running costs on the lower power 1 Series engines shouldn’t be a problem, especially if you buy the 1.5-litre three-cylinder diesel. This engine can achieve up to 83mpg, plus its low CO2 emissions will reduce the cost of your tax.

However, customers who opt for the sporty M140i face a maximum of 36mpg from the six-cylinder 3.0-litre engine – not very cost-effective for an everyday car.

The 1.5-litre petrol isn’t bad on economy, achieving 57mpg in basic trim models. It must be pointed out though that cars rarely achieve manufacturer-stated MPG statistics.

The 1 Series uses its rear tyres much quicker than a hatchback usually would because of its front-wheel drive system. This is an especially bad thing for this particular car, as BMW charge a lot more than many manufacturers for spares and parts.

Things to look out for

Each new 1 Series comes with a three year unlimited mileage warranty. This protects customers against a wide variety of eventualities and also includes access to BMW Emergency Service.

The 1 Series needs servicing every 30,000 miles, which isn’t bad at all. As long as that solid German engineering holds up to reputation, repair costs shouldn’t be anything to worry about.

The BMW 1 Series is better than the class average for durability of electrics, bulbs and wiper blades. However, it can be more costly on brake pads and brake fluid.



The primary rivals for the 1 Series are the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class. It could also be said that the Volkswagen Golf and Alfa Romeo Giulietta are competitors.

The BMW 1 Series is more expensive than most of its opponents, but it is arguably one of the best to drive.

The M140i has more power than the Volkswagen Golf R, but can’t stand up to hyper hatches such as the Audi RS3 and Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG.


Depreciation warning

The 1-Series is a solid, reliable car and holds its value reasonably well. A 2016 2.0-litre diesel M Sport with 10,000 miles on the clock will cost roughly £23,000.

Second generation models can be picked up for just over £5,000, but these examples may have done around 200,000 miles.

Which 1 Series to Pick

Cheapest to Buy When New

118i SE 5dr

Most MPG

116d SE 5dr

Fastest Model (0-60)

M135i xDrive 5dr Step Auto

Trims Explained

Including the M140i hyper hatch, there are four trim levels for the 1 Series


The SE specification is the entry-level trim. It is designed for customers who want a practical premium hatchback for a reasonable amount of money.

It is available with the 1.5-litre petrol, 1.5-litre diesel and 2.0-litre diesel.


The Sport trim features a high-gloss black colour in the bumper, air inlets, exterior mirrors and kidney grille bars. It also comes with either 16 or 17-alloy wheels. The interior has coloured highlights on the seats, dashboard and instrument panel.

It is available with the 1.5-litre petrol, 1.5-litre diesel, 2.0-litre diesel and 2.0-litre petrol.

M Sport

The M Sport spec embodies BMW’s reputation for sportiness. The car in this trim comes with 18-inch double spoke M light alloy wheels and the M aerodynamic package. The interior features cloth Alacantara seats, an M multifunction steering wheel and an aluminium hexagon design.

The engines available on this specification are the 1.5-litre petrol, 1.5-litre diesel, 2.0-litre diesel and 2.0-litre petrol.


The M140i is the top-of-the-range hyper hatch. This specification of 1 Series is 10mm lower than standard. The M Sport wheels are accompanied by Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres. The centrepiece of this trim is the six-cylinder 3.0-litre engine, which produces 335bhp, propelling the car from a standstill to 60mph in 4.5 seconds.

Prices start from £31,875


  1. The 1 Series is a very pleasant car to drive and rather unique in its engine and drivetrain layout.
  2. There is a lack of rear legroom and boot capacity.
  3. It is slightly more expensive than its rivals.
  4. Poor aesthetics.
  5. Second generation has a much more sophisticated interior than the first generation.
  6. Rear tyres wear quicker than most hatchbacks.
  7. Parts are expensive.
  8. Services not needed very often.
  9. Good range of engines and trims.
  10. It holds its value well but is not extortionately expensive on the second hand market.

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