BMW 1 Series Review

The new BMW 1 Series comes with front-wheel drive for the first time – something that won’t please the purists – but at least it’s more practical and gets more tech than the old car.


This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • High-tech infotainment
  • More spacious than before
  • Lots of engines to pick from

What's not so good

  • No rear-wheel-drive model
  • Alternatives are a bit cheaper
  • Looks may not appeal to everyone

BMW 1 Series: what would you like to read next?

Overall verdict

The BMW 1 Series is a high-tech family hatchback with eye-catching looks and a posh cabin. Just like the Mercedes A-Class and Audi A3, it comes with front-wheel drive as standard – a first for BMW’s smallest car.

This new layout means the new BMW 1 Series doesn’t get a long, sweeping bonnet like the car it replaces, but it still packs plenty of angular creases to make sure it’s one of the sportiest-looking hatchbacks around.

Things are a little tamer inside, but the BMW 1 Series’ minimalist dashboard and nine-inch infotainment display look more modern than the equivalents in the old car’s cabin. It comes with plenty of bang-up-to-date equipment too, including optional gesture controls and BMW’s personal assistant system. The latter is similar to the A-Class’ ‘Hey Mercedes’ feature.

Sending power to the front, rather than the rear, wheels means BMW has been able to redesign the 1 Series’ cabin to maximise room for passengers. As a result, there’s more space in all five seats than in the old car so you should be able to carry tall adults in the back in reasonable comfort. The BMW 1 Series’ boot is bigger than in the old car, too, and more spacious than the load bay you’ll find in a Mercedes A-Class.

The BMW 1 Series’ sporty styling might not be conventionally attractive, but it certainly stands out from the likes of the rather staid and sensible Audi A3 and VW Golf.

Mat Watson
carwow expert

You can get the BMW 1 Series with a range of petrol and diesel engines; from the entry-level 1.5-litre 118i three-cylinder that’s ideally suited to town driving to the 2.0-litre 118d version that’ll lap up longer motorway trips with ease. There’s also a sportier M135i model in the works that’ll sprint from 0-60mph in less than 4.8 seconds.

As with the previous BMW 1 Series, you’ll be able to have the new car with a manual or automatic gearbox, and with optional four-wheel drive for a little extra grip in slippery conditions. There’ll also be the option of some high-tech driver assistance systems to help keep you safe and take the stress out of long drives and trips in heavy traffic.

For more in-depth information, read our detailed BMW 1 Series price, specs and release date story.

BMW 1 Series
RRP £24,430 Avg. carwow saving £1,000 Discover your best deals upfront
RRP £24,430 Find new, used & lease car deals