The 1 Series has been a popular choice among drivers wanting a premium badge for some time, and before BMW ushers in the front-wheel drive, third generation model, we’ve got behind the wheel of the updated second generation version.
After the latest Mercedes A-Class was unveiled earlier this year, the premium hatchback market is as competitive as ever – with the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf continuing to impress.
On this model, you’ll find an updated fascia and refreshed interior design to keep it up to speed with its rivals before a new model arrives in 2019.
But can this last hurrah for the rear-wheel drive 1 Series be as good as before? We give it a go…
BMW uses the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine across the 118d, 120d and 125d models – with the only difference being different levels of tuning to provide different power outputs. Here we had the mid-range option, which develops 190bhp and 400Nm of torque, and is paired to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
With all the power sent to the rear wheels, the 120d is able to get from 0-60mph in seven seconds and reach a top speed of 142mph – quite potent for a family hatchback. With that torque accessible throughout the rev range, you’ll be able to get up to speed with little trouble.
Ride & Handling
We tested the 1 Series in M Sport guise, and with that BMW fits sports suspension as part of the pack, which lowers the car by 10mm. We would choose to remove it though, as it made the ride a bit too harsh for our tastes and makes it less enjoyable around town. You can, however, remove the sports suspension as a no cost option.
With the rear-wheel drive setup, the 1 Series is angled more towards driving enthusiasts and to aid that system, BMW has ensured the steering is well-balanced and offers a sharper turn-in than most other hatchbacks. The smooth-shifting auto ‘box helps with cruising, and even though there is a manual mode that drivers can use with the wheel-mounted paddles, it’s best you leave the gearbox to do its own thing.
Interior & Equipment
From the base spec, the 1 Series is well-equipped – as you expect from a premium model – and as standard it comes with automatic air conditioning, a 6.5-inch infotainment display with iDrive, Bluetooth, BMW’s ConnectedDrive services, drive performance control, a multi-function leather steering wheel and automatic headlights.
As mentioned previously, we tested the 1 Series in the M Sport trim which adds leather upholstery, 18-inch alloy wheels, chrome exterior detailing, LED head and foglights, an M Sport bodykit, sports seats and an LED welcome light. The interior was well screwed together and gave the 1 Series a high quality feel, and even though the black leather and trim made the interior quite a dark place to be, there was plenty of adjustment to make it very comfortable.
The hatchback has a 360-litre boot, which can accommodate plenty of bags for your weekly shop, but if you need a bit more space, the 60/40 split rear seats can be folded down to offer up to 1,200 litres.
Passenger space is restricted slightly by the low roofline, but there’s enough space for two six-footers in the back for short journeys. Longer trips may be a bit more uncomfortable for taller occupants.
Available in two body styles, the 1 Series starts from £22,450 for the three-door option, while the five-door model starts from £23,000. With the five-door M Sport model we tested, prices start from £32,860 – which is a fair amount for a premium hatchback, but is similar to the cost of rivals like the Mercedes A-Class and Audi A3.
With the 120d diesel unit under the bonnet, the 1 Series can achieve a quoted 61.1mpg and emit 124g/km CO2, which is very strong considering the performance it can offer alongside it.
Even though the costs may be a bit steep for some, you should consider the amount of equipment you get as standard in the 1 Series M Sport and then you’ll see that it’s worth the somewhat steep tag. It continues to be one the best premium hatchbacks to drive and the quality finish is pleasing on the eye and to the touch. If the cost is a bit too high for you, used options provide as good an overall result before the third generation arrives next year.Enquire Now on a new 1 Series