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Cargiant reviews the BMW 1 Series

| In Car Reviews

Introduced in 2011, the BMW 1-series has become a popular line of car, despite its debateable attractive quality. In response to the negative feedback about its appearance, BMW launched a second generation 1-series earlier this year, which is even more efficient and desirable.

Like any BMW series, the BMW 1-series is of premium quality and offers both stylish design and a range of impressive diesel and petrol engines. Smaller and less expensive than the BMW 3-series, this 3-5 door hatchback competes with rivals such as the Audi A3, Mercedes A-class and Volkswagon Golf.
Equipped with driven rear wheels, plush interiors and optional adaptive dampers the BMW 1-series is an extremely comfortable drive and an excellent family car. The BMW 1-series makes up for the lack of space for passengers in the back of the 3 door with its combination of high level performance and low economy and emissions.

Driving and Performance:
The BMW 1-series’ range of diesel and petrol engines provide drivers with not only control over the type of experience they want, but an exciting and safe all round ride. Drivers can choose from Comfort, Sport or fuel-saving Eco Pro driving experiences by just pressing a button and feel the difference between these settings.
This impressive series is also lightweight, and can accelerate from 0-62mph in just 4.9 seconds with the 135i petrol engine. The rear driving wheels provides the BMW 1-series with plenty of grip and prevents body roll on corners while it’s clever steering system helps increase the car’s weight the faster you go, further increasing the car’s manoeuvrability.
Although an added cost, dampened suspension in the BMW 1-series mean that this line of cars is now smoother and in control on bumpier roads. This leads to a more comfortable drive; in fact, the BMW 1-series has matched its rival, the Audi A3 and topped the Mercedes C-class for comfort.
One negative feature of the BMW 1-series however, is the lack of driver involvement that you might find in a larger saloon. Driving in wet conditions for example, emphasises the amount of understeer present in the model. Its weight and quick agility can also make the car feel lighter than it is which may not suit more nervous drivers.
That said, the BMW 1-series (particularly the second generation) comes with both powerful engines and brakes, giving you a very reliable and enjoyable ride while maintaining the classic class of BMW.

MPG, Running costs & emissions:
The BMW 1-series offers engines with competitive fuel economy as well as low CO2 emissions and is the cheapest car to run in the range.
BMW 1-series has a wide range of petrol and diesel engines but the 116d EfficientDynamic model that is particularly impressive. The engine returns an outstanding 74.3mpg in fuel economy and 99g/km of CO2 emissions, making it not only extremely efficient but also tax-free.
Even more powerful diesel variants boast remarkable figures. For instance the 118i engine returns around 48mpg and emits 137g/km of CO2, while the 120d will not only reach 60mph in just 7 seconds, it also only emits 119g/km of CO2. This may seem like significantly more than some of the petrol models but it is still considered green.
The efficiency of the BMW 1-series is down to the technology behind it, such as automatic stop-start, low resistance tyres, brake-energy recuperation, automatically disconnecting ancillary components and optimal gearshift indicator. The only negative with this line is that these components may come at an extra cost, however the BMW 1-series matches the Audi A3 and Mercedes A-class for both cost and fuel economy.


Like all BMWs the BMW 1-series is a high quality range, with plush interiors and stylish exteriors. The 1st generation of the BMW 1-series endured a fair bit of criticism regarding its general appearance and impracticality, however the 2nd sought to combat this by providing more space and comfort and a more lean body.
30kg lighter than the older version, the 2nd generation BMW 1-series come equipped with a number of standard accessories like climate control, Bluetooth, digital radio and an iPod dock. Upgrading to the Sport, M Sport and Urban models also gets you automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, alloy wheels and steering wheel-mounted stereo controls.
There is enough space inside to fit occupants of all sizes, however the rear windows are quite small which may make the back seem a little dark and cramped. If it’s a family car you are after, you may be better off looking at the Volkswagon Golf for even more space.
The driving position available with the BMW 1-series is very comfortable though, and the dashboard is particularly aesthetically pleasing, with large, easy-to-read dials and buttons without having to take your eyes off the road.


The Audi A3 and Volkswagon Golf were rated higher than the BMW 1-series in the Euro NCAP crash tests for occupant and pedestrian protection. That said, the BMW 1-series was still given the maximum 5 stars available and comes with a number of safety features, making it a highly reliable and safe car to drive.
Amongst these features is a five-stage traction control system, standard stability system, 4-7 airbags, ISOFIX points for child seats, traction control, deadlocks, an alarm and ABS. You can also choose to add extras for an additional cost; this can include lane departure warning and auto-brakes, which prepare the car in the event of an accident.
BMW is known and respected for its high quality technology and the safety equipment available with this model is no different.