The BMW 1 Series is a small executive hatchback that competes with models such as the Audi A3, Mercedes A-Class and the Volvo V40. It’s the most fun-to-drive car out of the bunch, and is the cheapest BMW you can buy.
You pay a premium for the BMW badge, so the 1 Series is more expensive than similarly proportioned mainstream models such as the Ford Focus. In return you get a high-quality interior and a choice of some of the best engines available in a car this size.
The engine range covers everything from the frugal 116d diesel to the blindingly fast M140i, which has a big 3.0-litre petrol engine that’s turbocharged for extra performance.
Although the BMW’s rear-wheel-drive setup means it can corner quicker than its rivals, it also takes up precious interior space, so adults in the back will feel cramped and it has a smaller boot than the less-agile competition. The BMW’s interior feels well built, but the cheaper VW Golf matches it for quality.
If you want a hatch at the sporty end of the market, the 1 Series' rear-wheel drive means it is the one to have
You also get less kit than a Golf of the same price, but standard equipment is still decent and includes 16-inch alloy wheels, a 6.5-inch colour infotainment screen, DAB digital radio, keyless start, as well as automatic headlights and wipers.
The BMW 1 Series is a very good all-round car, 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 competitors, and it is quite expensive for the class standard. 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 having a look at if you reckon the badge on the bonnet and the driven rear wheels justify the premium.