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BMW 1 Series Guide

Get the best online car shopping experience with expert reviews of the BMW 1 Series. Read more to learn about the most important features and important factors to consider when researching the BMW 1 Series.

OverviewBMW 1 SERIES

Brought onto the market in 2004, the BMW 1 Series is a subcompact luxury SUV. While the vehicle might seem small from the outside, the interior actually offers a fair amount of space. Drivers looking for swift acceleration will want to take note of the 1 Series' ability to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in five seconds or less.


A Series of Powerful Engines

Take your pick from three different engine options, all of which have high power outputs. The base 128i has a 3-liter V6 that puts out 230 horsepower, the 135i is a turbocharged version that gets 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, and the super powerful 135is, introduced in 2013, generates 320 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque. Equipped with the automatic transmission, the 135is can get up to 60 mph in about five seconds or even less time with the manual transmission. Those looking for a new BMW 1 Series on the European market will find that the 2019 and 2020 hatchbacks can get from 0 to 60 mph in about eight seconds. In May 2019, RWD was removed from these models in favor of FWD or optional AWD, generating some controversy.

Three Transmissions

BMW gives customers a series of three transmissions to choose from: the standard 6-speed manual transmission, an optional 6-speed automatic transmission, and an optional 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT). The base trim has the standard manual and optional 6-speed automatic, while the 135i and 135 is can be equipped with the 6-speed manual or 7-speed DCT. Fuel economy is fairly similar between all three of these transmissions. All three work well at providing seamless gear shifting and helping the engine provide power to get the 1 Series up to speed.

Available as a Two-Door Coupe or Convertible

Consumers can take their pick between the two-door coupe and the convertible. Both body styles can be equipped with any of the powertrain configurations, and they have similar styling inside. The convertible has 8.5 cubic feet of cargo space available while the coupe has 13 cubes  a decent number for a vehicle of this style. Luggage can easily be placed back there, as can a few weeks' worth of groceries.


More Hard Plastics Than Expected

One of the few issues drivers might take with the 1 Series' interior is the presence of more hard plastics than expected for a luxury vehicle. Competitors tend to offer more soft-touch surfaces, and this leads to the 1 Series looking a little outdated. The driver is left with optional upgrades, including wooden and aluminum trims. These look more in line with what can be found inside BMW's chief rivals. The sun-reflective leather that can be added to the convertible makes up for some of the hard plastics.

Base Seats Lack Support

The standard seats do not offer a lot of built-in support, which is something that characterizes luxury vehicles. Buyers will find that lateral and lumbar support feel minimal, and the seats have too-firm padding. The optional M Sport package, available on both Series 1 models for 2013-2020, makes up for some of this with plush sport seats that can be manually adjusted. Of course, that means buyers will have to spend more for comfort that should come standard.

The Rear Seats Are Small

The rear seats in both body styles are considerably smaller than competitors'. BMW's 3 Series offers larger rear seats, making the 1 Series' two rear seats feel tiny. These seats are best used for children or small adults. The rear space in general is best left as additional cargo area.

BMW 1 Series Reviews

4.9 OUT OF 5 (18 Reviews)