BMW 1 Series long-term test review: report 2
The latest 1 Series aims to offer everything a small family might want from their premium hatchback, but does it do a better job than its key rivals? We've got four months to find out...
The car BMW 1 Series 118i M Sport 5dr Step Auto Run by Louis Shaw, social media manager
Why it’s here The latest 1 Series is taking on the Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class with bold looks inside and out, a switch to front-wheel drive and a raft of new technology – time to see if it fits a modern city-dweller
Needs to Be comfortable on a daily commute, offer good fuel economy – particularly in stop-start traffic – and be easy to park and navigate in the narrow streets of London
Mileage 3744 List price £28,580 Target Price £26,930 Price as tested £37,500
11 December 2019 – Everybody in?
Not even a month into running my new BMW 1 Series and it’s already being put to work with a long trip. In celebration of my 30th birthday, a group of friends and I headed up to Leiston in Suffolk for a British countryside escape. The sort involving two cars, 10 people, and a full house.
With a 380-litre boot space to work with and five adult passengers I feared it may be a squeeze, but, crucially, the perfect scenario to test how one might make best use of a family car like this. The boxy shape makes it easy to maximise the space available, but the 1 Series will only swallow five carry-on suitcases. To put things into perspective, that’s one less than we were able to fit in the Mercedes A-Class, and two less than was possible in the cheaper Skoda Scala.
While the space below the boot floor is useful, the awkward shape means it’s ultimately not as helpful as it could be when packing large items. It’s a lot more flexible when you’re able to drop a rear seat, or even open up the middle of the rear bench, but with all of the seats in place, it just about fit all of our luggage with the parcel shelf protruding slightly above the headrests. The takeaway here is that my friends and I were able to get everything in the car and travel in relative comfort, which is impressive when you consider that this is a relatively compact family car.
A substantial journey also provided another crucial family car stress test, and that is, of course, prolonged comfort. Sitting nice and low in the car with plenty of steering wheel adjustment helps you feel in control from start to finish. That said, the lack of lumbar support in the front seats meant my passenger and I were hobbling out of the car by the journey’s end – something What Car?’s editor recently experienced in our long-term 3 Series M Sport.
On the topic of the 1 Series' larger stablemate, the back seats are where you also notice the relative limitations of a car of this size. While it’s taller and marginally wider than the outgoing model, the latest 1 Series isn’t, as you’d probably expect, as spacious as the 3 Series. With three passengers strapped in, they were squashed together like the bellows of an accordion, no matter who sat where. It is technically a 5-seater, but, I suspect for those of you doing regular long journeys, more comfortable as a four.
On another positive, you’re able to find the sat-nav controls, Spotify, call list and such quickly and without distraction, which furthers that feeling of confidence from the driver’s seat. The benefit of a simple button and click-wheel should not be understated and BMW’s class-leading iDrive infotainment system straddles that perfect line between analogue and digital. The speakers also deserve an honourable mention, for while I may not be a sound aficionado, the optional Harman Kardon system (included in the Technology Pack 2 at a cost of £1500) are noticeably high quality with a richness to the sound that everyone noticed.
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