The BMW 1 Series is the cheapest BMW you can buy, but it’s great fun to drive and has a range of fuel-efficient engines. Its looks won’t be to all tastes, though.
The BMW 1 Series might be the cheapest BMW you can buy, but you’ll still pay a premium for that BMW badge versus family hatchbacks such as the Ford Focus. Still, you do get lots of equipment as standard, a high-quality interior and some superb engine choices for that.
Those engines include fuel-efficient diesels such as the 116d, right through to the performance-orientated M140i, which has a huge turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol engine.
The BMW 1 Series has rear-wheel drive, which makes it feel sportier to drive than most of its alternatives. However, sending drive from the engine to the back robs it of space inside, and as such adults will find the rear seats quite cramped compared with other hatches. And although the BMW’s interior feels well built, the cheaper VW Golf matches it for quality.
If you want a small hatchback and enjoy your driving, the BMW 1 Series just has to be on your list of test drives.
A Volkswagen Golf also comes with more kit as standard, but the BMW 1 Series’ equipment is still decent, including 16-inch alloy wheels, a 6.5-inch colour infotainment screen, DAB digital radio, keyless start, as well as automatic headlights and wipers. There’s a long and expensive options list to get carried away with should you want to, though.
All told, the BMW 1 Series is a strong choice, and a noticeable improvement over its predecessor. There’s more interior and boot space than before, it’s slightly better to drive, it’s comfier and the overall build quality is now on par with what you’d expect from a BMW.
However, the 1 Series still isn’t quite as practical as some of its best hatchbacks, and it is relatively expensive to buy. It’s not the all-out best small family hatch on the market, then, but it’s a very talented and capable all-rounder, and certainly worth investigating if you value driving above anything else.
See how much you could save, take a look at the BMW 1 Series deals page.