What's the used BMW 1 Series hatchback like?
Conformity is what you need in order to sell cars. Which could well be why BMW ditched the rear-wheel drive layout that made it unique in favour of a tried and true front-wheel drive layout that yields more passenger space. Is this a bad thing? Not really, because the 1 Series is as competent as ever and a few more examples sold means that used car buyers have a greater pool to pick from.
The underpinnings for the 1 Series are shared with Mini, so it's no surprise that the range of engines on offer is similar as well. There are three petrol engines, starting with the lovely 138bhp 1.5 in the 118i, then a potent 261bhp 2.0 128ti, and finally a 302bhp 2.0 in the M135i. Diesel fanciers also have three choices with the 113bhp 1.5 116d, 148bhp 2.0 118d or 187bhp 2.0 120d. The top model M135i and 120d have four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard (this auto was also an option on the 118d), with the rest being front-wheel drive with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch auto.
Continuing the pattern of three into the trim choices lets you pick from SE, Sport, or M Sport. SE models have 16in alloys, LED headlights, climate control, front and rear parking sensors and an 8.8in touchscreen infotainment system. Sport models have bigger, 17in wheels and more supportive sports seats in the front, along with dual-zone climate control. M Sport has sharper exterior and interior styling touches plus 18in alloys. These can be upgraded to 19in with the M Sport Plus pack that also adds adaptive suspension to stiffen or soften the ride accordingly.
The 1 Series gives a good initial impression of sportiness with quick-reacting steering and low levels of body lean in bends, but grip levels are noticeably lower than rivals such as the Audi A3 or Mercedes A-Class display, and the brakes aren't very progressive either, making smooth stops at traffic lights a challenge. The bigger brakes in the M Sport Pro pack are far better. Road noise is more prevalent than you'll find in the 1 Series's aforementioned rivals, and this is only made worse with bigger wheels.
Thankfully, the interior is a step above what you'll find in a contemporary A3. Plusher plastics and an easy to operate infotainment system put it ahead of Audi, although it doesn't have the visual appeal of the A-Class. Space up front is good, though, with lots of head, leg and shoulder room. Rear passengers benefit massively compared with the older 1 Series because there's more space to stretch out and the central tunnel is smaller and affords a bigger area for your feet.
On paper, boot capacity is up on the A-Class and on a par with the A3. However, this measurement includes the void under the false floor, so the usable space above that is reduced.
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