BMW 1 Series long-term test review

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...

BMW 1 Series long-term test
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What Car? team
12 Feb 2020 10:00

The car BMW 1 Series 118i M Sport Step Aut0 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 4401 List price £28,580 Target Price £26,448 Price as tested £37,500 Test economy 32.1mpg


11 February 2020 – Fuel inefficient

When you commit to a workout routine, you expect the results to speak for themselves. In much the same way, you’d hope that using BMW’s Driving Style Analysis program would reward you with significant gains to your fuel economy. In my experience, however, the results are mixed at best.

As I said in my first report, a family car must be a jack of all trades. At this price point, and in such a competitive class, buyers will expect a workhorse – a mile-muncher and a city commuter, the latter of which has particular importance to me as an urban traveller.

Driving Style Analysis system 1 Series

Driving Style Analysis claims to help you to reach the car’s fuel efficiency potential, which becomes critical for anything other than motorway journeys. The system advises on when to lift off and rewards you for gentle acceleration. Your effort is then rated out of five in a nice clear diagram and converted into mileage, which is displayed as a bonus range. It’s a clever tool, and before long you’ll be lifting and coasting like a Formula 1 driver in order to conserve fuel.

But what of the gains? It’s true to say that on a single tank of fuel, I’ve been able to save more than 30 miles of range, which isn't insignificant. But no matter how hard I try, I rarely get better than 31-32mpg on a trip. I dread to think what the average buyer might achieve without following the advice of the analysis program.

BMW 1 Series in traffic

In the battle for better economy, you start to notice the little details that seemingly hinder your progress. Take for example the automatic engine start-stop system. You come to a halt in gridlock traffic only for the car in front to inch forward. Naturally, you’d see no reason to move until at least a couple of car lengths have opened up, but instead the car senses the motion and starts the engine.

You can re-engage the start-stop with a firm press of the brake pedal (a neat feature), but if the car in front moves again, the same thing occurs. The start-stop system is so sensitive, in fact, that I’ve had a passerby re-engage the engine simply by walking in front of the car.

BMW 1 Series in traffic car length space

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