What's the used BMW 1 Series hatchback like?
The first generation of BMW 1 Series, introduced in 2004, was a hugely successful but rather curious car. It had like-it-or-loathe-it styling, a surprisingly cramped interior for a family hatchback and, despite having the rear-wheel-drive disposition of many other BMWs and a whole host of sports car, it wasn’t even all that special to drive.
This second-generation version, introduced in 2011, corrected some, if not all, of those faults. It’s subtly better-looking, for starters, has slightly more interior space and, thanks to numerous tweaks to its chassis and running gear, as well as a wide range of efficient petrol and diesel engines, it’s noticeably nicer to drive.
It’s still the only car in its class to offer a rear-wheel-drive set-up, and as a result it can be great fun to punt down a winding road. It’s refined, too, especially on motorways, and the interior ergonomics are excellent. Added to that, there’s BMW’s usual build quality, which does nothing to detract from the 1 Series’ premium feel, and there's the excellent iDrive infotainment system. It’s a premium car that will more than satisfy the demands of the high-mileage executive plodding the UK’s byways.
All in all, it’s a great package, with an air of sophistication to the way it rides and handles and a vast choice of models, from the economical 116d versions right the way up to the blisteringly quick M135i and, later, M140i versions. Safety and security specs are top-rate too. Rivals include the sober Audi A3, a great car and a good used buy, but without the driving pleasures of the 1 Series; the smart Mercedes-Benz A-Class, which is not so good to drive and a little pricey; and the achingly sensible Volkswagen Golf, which does everything most could want in one slightly less exciting package.