Feature

Used test – premium unleaded: BMW 1 Series vs Volkswagen Golf

These classy hatchbacks are plentiful in petrol form – but which one is the perfect antidote to the current diesel funk?

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BMW 1 Series vs Volkswagen Golf verdict

Our Verdict

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.

Read our review of the latest Volkswagen Golf

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Also consider:


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

Rated 5 out of 5

Read the full used Volkswagen Golf review

Find a used Volkswagen Golf for sale in the What Car? Classifieds


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

Rated 4 out of 5

Read the full used BMW 1 Series review

Find a used BMW 1 Series for sale in the What Car? Classifieds


Specifications: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI 122 Match

Engine size 1.4-litre petrol

List price when new Β£19,100

Price today Β£7000

Power 121bhp

Torque 148lb ft

0-60mph 9.6sec

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 Β£19,375

Price today Β£9000

Power 134bhp

Torque 162lb ft

0-60mph 8.0sec

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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