You pay a premium for the BMW badge, and trim levels like M Sport are not particularly good value, with steep price rises for a few bits of body kit and larger alloy wheels. Fortunately, you can often haggle good discounts, and SE models are more keenly priced, and very competitive when it comes to PCP finance deals.
Leasing rates are a little less attractive especially on diesel versions, but fixed price, variable servicing plans go some way to help offset the high insurance costs. Crucially, the majority of the engines emit comparatively low amounts of CO2, making them cheap to tax for the company car buyers who account for a huge swathe of 1 Series sales.
Our True MPG real world economy tests found that most models return close to or above 50mpg in normal driving (the 116d ED Plus is the most efficient and managed 55.4mpg), with the exception of the sporty petrol variants.
BMW 1 Series equipment
Base SE models are the best value, with all the infotainment kit you could want, as well as air-con, front and rear (on five-door models) electric windows and auto lights and wipers. ED Plus trim on the 116d model is great value because it adds sat-nav, cruise control and rear parking sensors, but you are limited to the base diesel engine.
Sport mostly adds style upgrades, such as bigger wheels and sports seats with more side support, while M Sport is yet more image-focused, with part-Alcantara seats and lowered suspension (which can be deleted at no extra cost).
SE or ED Plus is the best value – just choose your options wisely or you can easily end up spending thousands on extra goodies.
BMW 1 Series reliability
Recent reliability surveys have placed the 1 Series right in the middle of its class, with an average number of problems reported. As a brand, BMW came 28th out of 37 manufacturers rated in our used car reliability survey, so while it’s not disgraced, its reliability is unlikely to be noteworthy.
There were few complaints about how the car drove, but buyers reported problems with the windscreen wipers, seat adjusters and excessive tyre wear – although of course that is partly down to driving style.
Not many of the BMW’s rivals did much better, and it comes with the same three-year warranty that most premium brands offer, but at least the mileage is unlimited.
BMW 1 Series safety & security
Euro NCAP has recently made its crash tests more stringent, but the 1 Series scored highly in the old tests with a five-star result, and did well in all areas except pedestrian protection.
There are six airbags and tyre pressure-monitoring on all models, and run-flat tyres are included on many models. However, the 1 Series doesn’t get emergency automatic braking, adaptive cruise control or collision detection.
At least security body Thatcham rates it highly for being difficult to break into, or steal from.
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Gets the essentials, including air-con, a colour screen, Bluetooth and audio streaming, digital radio, multifunction steering wheel, auto lights and wipers, and electric windows all-round, but it’s a shame that cruise control, rear parking sensors and sat-nav are pricey options.
Adds sat-nav, cruise control and rear parking sensors, for a reasonable jump up in cost over standard SE. Worth it if you’re buying the 116d, which is the only engine available with this trim.
Largely designed to enhance the exterior appearance, Sport models come with larger 17-inch alloy wheels, sports seats with a greater range of adjustment, changeable ambient lighting in the interior and a unique steering wheel and dials.
The flagship version of the 1 Series has standard climate control, 18in alloys, lowered, firmer suspension, and an aerodynamic bodykit which is designed to make it look meaner. It’s a lot of money though, and doesn’t ride as well as versions on smaller wheels with fatter tyres. You can deselect the firmer suspension at no extra cost, which we’d recommend if you go for this trim.
The range-topping BMW gets a standalone trim in its own right, and includes leather upholstery and uprated brakes, as well as subtle styling tweaks. You still have to pay extra for sat-nav, though.