Overall Rating – 4/5
In an ocean of family cars, the BMW 1 Series stands out from the crowd, and not just because it’s a swanky ride. The Audi A3 and Mercedes Benz A-Class are also upscale choices but are not being called unique. The reason why car enthusiasts are calling the BMW 1 Series one of a kind is that it’s the only car in its class available with rear-wheel drive. This means that the driver should expect a sportier and more fun drive. But is that how it is? Let’s explore this ritzy ride and see how it rates in terms of driving, interior, space and cost.
The thoroughly refined BMW engine offers a springy six-speed manual gearbox and a heavier clutch than what you’d find in its contenders. If you prefer automatic gearboxes, the eight-speed auto is super smooth and most likely one of the best gearboxes in its range. Unfortunately, the rear-wheel driven handling on the BMW 1 Series is not as sporty and fun as expected, especially in the lower-powered versions like the 116d and the 118i. Even though the M140i benefits from it, making it a more playful drive, the fact that it’s rear-wheel-driven makes handling a bit tricky overall, unless you’re used to it and it’s your preference.
The bonnet drops away, so visibility is excellent and the centre console is tilted forward, making it easier for drivers to reach the buttons. Reasonably priced optional extras like parking sensors and a reversing camera make the interior extra comfortable. The infotainment in the BMW 1 Series is superb. It has the standard features like audio streaming, USB connection etc. but also sports a large 8.8-inch display screen with mobile internet services and the option to upgrade to a 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound system – one of the best available in a car of this class. On the downside, the pedals are at a bit of an awkward angle to the right so it’s not as comfortable as you’d like it to be.
Space and Practicality
With a low-mounted driver’s seat, even tall drivers will have enough headroom. Although cars with better leg room are few and far between, this excellent feature is limited to the front seats. The rear accommodation is not exactly cramped, but if you’re close to six feet tall, you may feel a bit constricted. The boot space is okay and there’s a small loading lip to help load luggage in. The backseat can also be flattened to create a loading space all the up to the front seats.
Cost and Final Verdict
Let’s face it, if you want to drive a BMW, you pay a premium for the privilege. As a brand, BMW is known as reliable and safe. Running costs are reasonable because fuel consumption is competitive and leasing rates are attractive, particularly on the diesel versions. Sensible CO2 levels make these cars reasonable on company car tax. The 1 Series finished third in the class in terms of reliability and the warranty offers unlimited mileage over three years. Overall, the 1 Series is an excellent choice if you can get used to the steering a rear-wheel-drive car and your regular backseat passengers are not unusually tall.
- +Air conditioning
- +Cruise control
- +Parking sensors