If you’re buying with heart over head, you wouldn’t be doing yourself a disservice by choosing the BMW 1 Series. It’s a characterful family car that’s great to drive, and it’s endowed with a stylish interior and an efficient range of petrol engines, with plenty of choice and availability on the used market.
However, while the BMW offers enough space to be usable as a family car, it isn’t the most spacious hatchback around. What’s more, some cheap-feeling plastics on the dashboard let it down.
But the main problem for the 1 Series here is simply that the Volkswagen Golf is better all round. True, it isn’t quite as much fun to drive, and nor is it quite as efficient, but everywhere else it has the measure of the BMW.
It’s a good deal more practical, for a start, and whether you’re carting around a young family or not, that’ll make your life easier; what’s more, the Golf is more comfortable, quieter, and better finished inside. For all this, you’ll pay a significant amount less to buy it – and it’ll lose less of your money with time, too. In other words, if you want a hatchback with a touch of class but don’t fancy a diesel, the Volkswagen Golf is still the one to have.
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1st – Volkswagen Golf
For Comfortable; good to drive; quiet; lots of kit
Against Economy could be better
Verdict For its blend of upmarket quality and comfort, the petrol-powered Golf is hard to beat
2nd – BMW 1 Series
For Handling; efficient petrol engine; smart dashboard
Against Costly; tight for space in the rear and boot; offset pedals; not that quiet
Verdict A fine effort, but not as rounded as the Golf – and quite a bit pricier, too
Specifications: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI 122 Match
Engine size 1.4-litre petrol
List price when new £19,100
Price today £7000
Torque 148lb ft
Top speed 120mph
Fuel economy 45.6mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions 144g/km
Specifications: BMW 116i ES
Engine size 1.6-litre petrol
List price when new £19,375
Price today £9000
Torque 162lb ft
Top speed 127mph
Fuel economy 49.6mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions 132g/km
Price today is based on a 2011 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing
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