Why buy the BMW 1 Series?
The BMW 1 Series is one of the best options if you’re looking for a compact car from a premium brand. You’ll find the interior looks and feels much the same as in BMW’s bigger, more expensive cars, and it comes with largely the same technology, too. It’s a similar story when you drive the 1 Series – it feels just as good as any other BMW from behind the wheel.
You can choose from a lot of different models, from ultra-efficient diesels to high-performance sporty versions, so there should be one that suits your needs. Just be aware, though, that there are other cars of similar size that are more practical if you're looking for a family car.
BMW 1 Series range and updates
The latest 1 Series has been sold new since 2019 when it replaced a version sold new from 2011 to 2019. The latest car is completely revised, really only sharing its name and size with the older car.
The latest car has a five-door body and is available with petrol or diesel engines, and manual or automatic gearboxes. There are three ‘regular’ trim levels to choose from – SE, Sport and M Sport – as well as two sporty, high-performance models, called the 128ti and M135i. The M135i is more powerful and has four-wheel drive which gives a real feeling of grip and confidence, especially while driving in the rain.
The older version of the 1 Series is available with three-door or five-door bodies and a wide range of petrol and diesel engines, with the choice of manual or automatic gearbox. Some models also have four-wheel drive. There are many trims to choose from but the most popular are SE, Sport and M Sport. The high-performance version was first sold as the M135i and then later renamed M140i when it was updated with more power.
BMW 1 Series tech and features
Whichever version of the latest 1 Series you pick, you’ll get a lot of features as standard including a touchscreen infotainment system with sat nav and Apple CarPlay connectivity, as well as air con, cruise control and a digital driver’s display instead of traditional dials. You’ll get front and rear parking sensors too. Some models also have heated leather seats and upgraded driver assistance systems, such as adaptive cruise control.
Many versions of the older 1 Series have sat nav, air con and cruise control, plus Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay connectivity and heated leather seats.
BMW 1 Series running costs and value
According to official figures, petrol models of the latest 1 Series can give you an average fuel economy of 35-47mpg and diesels can give 51-61mpg. In the older version, petrol models can give 35-53mpg, and diesels can give 58-74mpg.
Those fuel economy figures, and their correspondingly low CO2 emission figures, mean annual Vehicle Excise Duty (car tax) charges are quite low, but be aware that models sold since September 2017 that cost more than £40,000 when new will incur extra charges until they’re five years old.
BMW 1 Series vs rivals
The 1 Series’ main premium-brand rivals are the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and the Audi A3. The BMW is more enjoyable to drive than the Mercedes or the Audi, but unlike those, it isn’t available with hybrid power. You may also want to consider other mid-size hatchbacks such as the Volkswagen Golf and the Ford Focus, which lose out on the premium image of the BMW but are more affordable to buy.