- Excellent ride & handling
- BMW iDrive is great
- Classy interior design
- Storage isn’t the best
- More expensive than some
- Older models not most stylish
One of the best small family cars from a premium brand you can trust
Launched in 2004, The BMW 1 Series is one of BMW’s best-selling cars. It’s foray into the small car market initially brought about some negative reviews, but the latest version excels in nearly every area. Competing with the attractive Audi A3, and the iconic VW Golf, some early reviews criticised the car’s looks, but with the update, it’s hard not to argue that the 1 Series is a very attractive car. Now with a good engine range, and eco-friendly options, the 1 Series is a reliable, high-quality car suitable for small families.
Not the biggest in its class, but with a high-quality finish, and excellent multimedia, it more than makes up for its slight lack of space
The quality of plastics and brushed metals in the 1 Series stand it apart from its nearest rivals. And with BMW’s iDrive multimedia system as standard, you’re sure to be entertained.
In the Cabin
The black plastics that come as standard in the cabin of the 1 Series are what we’ve come to expect from BMW. Solid, chunky, and pleasant to the touch. Among the more expensive models, there is a beautiful brushed metal trim, that can sometimes be found in cheaper models in used cars- it being a popular extra. Dashboard controls are responsive and easy to use. All in all, the 1 Series' interior feels modern and contemporary - and is arguably the class leader.
The interior of the 1 Series is an entirely pleasant place to be. The slight lack of space is made up for with quality, well-made materials, good specifications, and a brilliant multimedia centre.
Perhaps one negative of the 1 Series is the space inside. Compared to some of the other cars in its class (Audi A3, VW Golf), it can feel a little cramped. This is, however, much improved in newer models, as BMW have added 30mm to the wheelbase. It’s still not perfect, but it’s one compromise to make for having rear-wheel drive, a rarity in cars in this class.
Equipment levels in the 1 Series are pretty good. One major positive is the inclusion of BMW’s iDrive system across the range. Coming as standard with a 6.5” top-mounted colour screen, powered by an intuitive rotary control wheel, iDrive is widely regarded as one of the best infotainment systems in car manufacturing. This will help you keep in control of the plethora of kit that comes with the 1 Series- Bluetooth, CD player, DAB Radio, and USB facilities all come as standard. Speakers as standard are of a good standard level, but the option of a Harmon Kardon stereo system increases the quality tenfold, and is recommended.
Sophisticated ride stands the 1 Series apart from its rivals
Unlike its bigger brother, the 3 Series, the 1 Series focuses firmly on comfort and refinement. However, there is some element of fun from whichever 1 series model you choose to buy. Being rear-wheel drive means that handling is much sharper and alert than its closest competitors, the Audi A3, the Mercedes A-Class, and the Volkswagen Golf. This combined with lightweight aluminium suspension components, stands it apart from the crowd.
There is the optional extra on the 1 Series of going for the M Sport suspension package. Whilst this is impressively stiff, perfect for a racing environment, most people are going to find this a little bumpy and uncomfortable. So unless you’re planning on going for the super fast M135i, we’d advise against this.
Most 1 Series come with a standard 6-speed manual. There are a couple of automatic models (120d SportAuto/125d SportAuto) for those not a fan of changing gear. On the sportier models, there is also an impressive optional eight-speed paddle-shift mechanism, but it’s rare to see this on anything other than the M135i. Whichever gearbox your car comes with, you can be sure of that solid BMW feel.
A good range of petrol and diesel options, with a money saving super efficient diesel engine
The 1 Series' engine options start with the 1.5-litre petrol engine on the confusingly named 118i SE, leading right the way up to the bonkers 3.0-litre petrol in the (also) confusingly named M135i. In between where most of us are going to shop, there’s a good range of punchy petrol and diesel engines. There’s no electric or hybrid version, unfortunately, but this probably won’t be too much of a bother for most people.
Let’s start with the M135i. For any petrolhead, this is going to be the one to go for. With 0-60 mph concluded rapidly in 5.1 seconds, and a top speed of 155 mph, this is the car for those in a rush.
For the environmentally minded, the best option is the 116d EfficientDynamics Plus model, which has CO2 emissions of just 89 g/km. This is also probably the best value model in terms of fuel efficiency. With an average of 83 mpg, this car will save you serious money on both road tax and diesel.
Whichever engine you choose to go for in your 1 Series, whether petrol or diesel, it’s going to be of an exceptionally high standard. BMW is not renowned for its skill in building brilliant engines for no reason...
Full marks in NCAP safety tests, good safety features as standard
As with most cars in its class, the 1 Series achieved the highest possible 5-star NCAP safety rating. It is roughly on a par with its competitors, slightly worse than the Audi A3, and slightly better than both the Mercedes A-class, and the Volkswagen Golf. One area that NCAP picked up on as being worse than its competitors is pedestrian safety, but only marginally so.
The 1 series does, however, come with a range of standard safety features. With 6 strategically placed airbags and the added extra of tyre pressure monitoring, you can feel safe under any circumstance.
Cheap running costs, low tax bands, and excellent resale value make the 1 Series great value for money
The entire 1 Series range (M series excluded) fall neatly into the lower bands of vehicle tax. This means less money paid out every year, that you can spend on other essentials. The 116d Efficient Dynamics Plus model, in particular, is a winner here. With just 89 g/km of C02 emitted, you’ll have to pay a grand total of zero vehicle tax. Even the sportier cars such as the 120d M Sport falls into the C-band, which will only set you back £30 per year.
Insurance wise, it depends hugely on the model you go for. The entry level 118i SE sits at a reasonable group 18, whilst the race-orientated M135i SE understandably sits way out on its own at group 37. So unless you’re going to be taking part in track days or blasting past Ferraris, you’re probably going to be OK.
Whilst depreciation is pretty solid with the 1 Series, it only really the case if you choose to buy from new. With first year depreciation as high as 30%, you’re better off opting for an inspected used equivalent. Plus, with impressive depreciation rates beyond this, your car won’t plummet in value.
The BMW 1 Series is a serious contender you should seriously consider when purchasing your next small family car. Being able to buy BMW quality at this price range is fantastic.There’s a model for every need, each with good build quality, cheap running costs, and good depreciation. There’s no wonder the 1 series is one of BMW’s best-selling cars.
Buying a used BMW 1 Series online with Carspring
If you’re after a used BMW 1 Series for sale, it can all feel like a bit of an ordeal. What, with long days spent around gigantic car supermarkets, or time spent trawling through classified websites, looking for that ideal used BMW 1 Series. Carspring makes it simple. Buy your next used BMW 1 Series online with the touch of a button. Simply decide on the model you want and choose how you want to pay.
Looking to finance your used BMW 1 Series? Not a problem, we work with our carefully selected finance partners to ensure that, if you’re paying monthly for your used BMW 1 Series, you know you’re getting the best rates. What’s more, with any Carspring used BMW 1 Series, you also get our 14-day money-back guarantee and 6 months’ free Carspring Warranty. Plus, you don’t have to leave your home. We’ll deliver your used BMW to you at a time and place of your choice.
*This is an approximate figure based on the range of the car’s list price and the AA’s average 1st-year depreciation cost of 40%.