If you want a premium hatchback, the number of choices seems to grow every day. Many of the offerings fall short of the all-round package that this segment demands, but the BMW 1 Series is one of the front-runners in this market.
Also competing in this market are the Audi A3, Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Lexus CT200h, Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Volvo V40 and more, so it’s safe to say that the cheapest BMW on sale needs to be good to stand out from the crowd.
Luckily it is, and here are seven reasons why the BMW 1 Series deserves consideration as your premium hatchback of choice.
7 Reasons to buy a BMW 1 Series
7. Quiet engines
Put a petrol engine in your 1 Series and you’ll enjoy one of the quietest engines in this class. The diesels aren’t quite as smooth, but all offer enough power to get you swiftly where you need to be.
6. Decent safety
The 1 Series has six airbags and tyre pressure monitoring as standard, while run-flat tyres are fitted to many. There’s no autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control or collision detection, but the 1 Series scored highly in NCAP crash tests before the recent hike in five-star rating requirements.
5. Inspiring handling
Keener drivers will appreciate the rear-wheel drive set-up on the 1 Series; it’s the only car in its class to send its power to the back wheels. It feels agile and grippy too, and the adaptive dampers, although expensive, erase some of the body lean around corners.
4. Comfortable ride
Opt for smaller alloy wheels and standard suspension rather than the more blingy 18in M Sport alloys and M Sport suspension, and the ride is calm and comfortable; the M Sport bits tend to harden the ride quite considerably.
3. Running costs
Much of the 1 Series range returned around 50mpg at the hands of our True MPG testers, while CO2 emission levels are low for its class on most of the engines in the range. This makes it a cheap car to run for anyone, and a cheap company car for those eligible.
2. Interior quality
As with many cars, there are certain pieces of trim which could feel more high quality, but the overall feel of the car’s interior is of a far higher standard than many rivals; only the Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3 trump the 1 Series on interior quality.
1. Class-leading infotainment
The infotainment on the 1 Series is in a league of its own. A 6.5in colour touchscreen is standard across the entire range, and is fitted high up on top of the centre console. It’s easy to use and figure out, and is as versatile as it is user-friendly.
What about buying used?
The second-generation 1 Series made notable improvements over the first-generation, so we’d go for used examples of the former, rather than trying to grab a bargain basement early car.
If you do go for the first 1 Series, go for a higher-spec car – low-end 1 Series examples are stingily equipped. What you would get, though, is a fine handling car with a respectably smart interior and plenty of badge prestige. Just prepare yourself for replacement brake pads – CAP Derwent data says that the 1 Series goes through these at a quicker than average rate.
You’ll pay around £8000 for a petrol-powered 1 Series with reasonable mileage, although this will rise if you want a newer car with fewer miles.