BMW 1 Series review: A Premium Family Hatchback

The BMW 1 Series has undergone a major redesign for its third-generation model, moving to front-wheel drive while maintaining its fun, sporty character. 

As an entry-level model in BMW‘s range, it makes an appealing option for growing families seeking a premium hatchback

This review provides an overview of the new BMW 1 Series key features and highlights why it’s a practical yet exciting choice. 

If you’re more of a visual learner, take a look below and watch our own review of the BMW 1 Series:

What’s the exterior of the BMW 1 Series like? 

Let’s delve the review into the design of the third-generation BMW 1 Series. This compact member of the BMW lineup is built upon the versatile UKL2 modular platform, which was purposefully engineered to provide ample passenger and storage space within the cabin for smaller models.  

This platform was initially introduced with the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer in 2014 and is also utilised in several of the brand’s SUVs, including the X1, X2, and MINI Countryman.  

To enhance the 1 Series’ focus on driving dynamics, certain adjustments have been made to the chassis and traction control system, resulting in an improved driving experience. 

BMW 1 Series review exterior

Beginning at the front of the car, you’ll immediately notice the iconic BMW kidney grille, which stands out as a distinguishing feature.  

Notably, this grille design differs slightly from other BMW models as it’s the first time the chrome elements in the kidney grille meet in the centre, and it’s not as prominent as the bold grille found on the BMW iX.  

This unique grille design adds to the car’s identity, although it’s a feature that may elicit either strong affection or aversion. 

The hood of the 1 Series is somewhat shorter compared to its predecessor, which has resulted in increased cabin space. This change is due to the new transverse engine layout, which powers the front wheels. 

In terms of dimensions, the vehicle’s length remains consistent at 4,319mm, identical to the previous model. However, it’s ever so slightly wider at 1,799mm and shorter in height at 1,434mm.  

These differences in size compared to its competitors are relatively minor, with only a 10mm advantage in length over the Mercedes A-Class, and it takes up slightly more space in your driveway than the Audi A3

The wheelbase, which represents the distance between the front and rear axles, measures 2,670mm, making it 20mm shorter than the previous model.  

Fortunately, thanks to the revised engine layout, this reduction doesn’t result in a loss of cabin space. 

What is the boot space like? 

Let’s shift this review and focus to the rear of the BMW 1 Series and see how much cargo it can accommodate.  

When you open the rear door, you’ll notice that it swings out wider and lower than the previous 1 Series, making it convenient when you have numerous bags to manage.  

Inside, you have 380 litres of storage space, a 20-litre improvement over the previous model and more than what the Mercedes A-Class offers.  

This is sufficient to comfortably fit two large suitcases or four carry-on bags, with additional room under the boot floor for items you like to always keep in the car. 

BMW 1 Series boot

If you need even more space, you can fold down the rear seats, increasing the boot capacity to 1,200 litres, perfect for those trips to the local tip with bulky items. 

For those who regularly travel with a fully loaded boot for work or leisure, consider the optional Comfort Pack 1.  

For an additional £1,500, this pack includes a tensioning strap, black netting, a 12V socket for charging devices, and a stainless-steel loading sill.  

Additionally, for £150, you can add the 40:20:40 Split Folding Rear Seats, ideal for accommodating passengers in the back while carrying long items like skis or golf clubs. 

A bit frustrating is that the Automatic Tailgate option, handy for managing multiple items, is only available with Comfort Pack II.  

However, when it comes to the often-bothersome parcel shelf, BMW has thoughtfully included a slot for it just below the boot floor, allowing you to keep it out of the way. 

Now, it’s time to step into the front. But before we do, take note of the metal handles on the door, which opens easily and swings wide for added convenience. 

How does the interior of the BMW 1 Series feel? 

Now, let’s shift this review and take a closer look at the front of the BMW 1 Series. Let’s break down what’s on offer step by step. 

BMW 1 Series interior

Front Seats: In the 118i M Sport model, the front seats are upholstered in luxurious black Dakota leather with perforation, available as an optional configuration for £1,150. Several upholstery options exist, but standout choices include Mocha Dakota Leather and Magma Red with grey highlights. 

The sport bucket seats are exceptionally comfortable, thanks in part to these armrests (not sure of their technical name) on the sides. Note that these armrests are available in all derivatives except the base-level SE model. 

Front seat height isn’t electronically adjustable; you’ll need to use the manual lever on the driver’s right-hand side and the passenger’s left side. This provides flexibility for finding the most comfortable driving position.  

You can also adjust the multi-function steering wheel, featured in the M Sport trim, with a three-spoke design and various buttons for tasks like changing information on the digital cockpit and answering calls hands-free. 

Driver’s Area: On the driver’s door, you’ll find buttons for locking and unlocking the vehicle and controlling the windows.  

The SE and M Sport trims come with electrically adjustable mirrors, a nice touch. Just below the right-side air vent on the dashboard are controls for the headlights. 

Above the rearview mirror, there are buttons for adjusting cabin lighting and making an emergency call if needed.  

Beneath the central display, which we’ll explore in more detail shortly, you’ll discover two cup holders, perfect for your morning beverage or a water bottle.  

If your bottle doesn’t fit, try placing it in one of the door bins on the driver’s or front passenger’s side. 

Ignition and Controls: If you’re accustomed to BMW’s Start/Stop button, you’ll find it to the right of the gearstick in the 1 Series.  

The design of this control area is appealing, with buttons for different driving modes contrasting nicely with the Start/Stop button.  

The gear shifter separates these controls from BMW’s intuitive toggle for navigating the infotainment display. 

Climate Control: Above this area, you’ll find all the climate controls you might need, and the M Sport and M135i models offer heated front seats, perfect for those chilly winter mornings. 

Interior Build Quality: As expected from BMW, the interior boasts impressive build quality.  

The dashboard feels robust, the leather-covered steering wheel provides a good grip, and there are elegant design details like stitching on the doors.  

Despite being the entry-level model in the BMW lineup, it maintains that essential premium feel. 

Rear Seats: The third-gen models of this car offer enhanced rear seat comfort for growing families. You’ll appreciate the 3.5 cm increase in legroom.  

However, taller passengers might feel cramped due to limited headroom, especially with the optional panoramic sunroof.  

The rear windows roll down completely, and the central armrest serves as a cup holder but could be more comfortable with leather upholstery. 

The middle rear seat is decent for short journeys. When the rear seats fold down, you get a generous 1,200 litres of cargo space, making it quite spacious for this segment. 

What tech is on offer? 

Let’s start with the central screen, which is the highlight of the technology features. It’s an 8.8-inch touchscreen included in the BMW Live Cockpit Plus suite.  

You can upgrade to a larger 10.25-inch screen with Live Cockpit Professional, available in the Tech 2 Package. The M135i hot hatch includes this upgrade.  

You can interact with this screen using a toggle, tapping icons, or shortcut buttons on the gear lever. It’s one of the best infotainment systems with a user-friendly interface and minimal lag. 

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard but may require a CarPlay subscription after the first year. You can also use BMW’s voice recognition or gesture control.  

BMW tech

For music enthusiasts, the standard six-speaker, 100-watt stereo system is decent. If you want a premium audio experience, you can upgrade to the 16-speaker, 464-watt Harman Kardon system for £750. 

Now, let’s talk about the digital cockpit display behind the steering wheel. It’s a 5.1-inch screen for essential driving information.  

With the £1,500 Technology Pack 2 or the M135i, you get a larger 10.25-inch digital instrument display. In the Tech 2 Package, all trims except the base model receive a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and an 8.8-inch touch display. 

Other notable features include ISOFIX fittings on the front passenger seat, glovebox size, and an infotainment system inspired by the BMW 3 Series.  

Every trim comes with an 8.8-inch central display, upgradable to 10.25 inches in some trims, and standard in the M135i. Live Cockpit Professional in the Tech 2 Package offers various control options, including touch, gesture, iDrive buttons, and voice commands.  

BMW’s app allows for car unlocking using NFC technology. Smartphone integration includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with a possible CarPlay subscription after the first year. 

What kind of engine does a BMW 1 Series have? 

Let’s explore the range of engines and powertrains available for the front of the car. Despite being BMW’s entry-level model, there’s a diverse selection to choose from. 

Starting with the petrol options, the base-level 118i comes with a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine. You can opt for either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed Dual-Clutch Automatic for an extra £1,350.  

This engine provides 140HP and 220Nm of torque, enabling a 0-62mph time of 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 132mph. The manual achieves up to 47.1mpg, while the automatic delivers 45.6mpg. CO2 emissions are around 121g/km for the manual and 114g/km for the automatic. 

For those seeking more power in a petrol variant, there’s the M135i xDrive, featuring a potent 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with 306HP and a 0-62mph time of 4.8 seconds. 

BMW engine

If you prefer diesel, the entry-level 116d has a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine producing 116HP and 270Nm of torque. It achieves 0-62mph times of 10.3 seconds (manual) and 10.1 seconds (automatic) with a top speed of 124mph. Fuel efficiency is excellent, offering up to 62.8mpg, and CO2 emissions stand at 103g/km. 

Above that is the 118d, featuring a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine with 150HP and 350Nm of torque, achieving similar performance to the 118i. 

Lastly, the 120d xDrive combines a 2.0-litre diesel engine with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, delivering 190HP and 400Nm of torque.  

It accelerates from 0-62mph in 7 seconds, making it the fastest diesel variant. However, it sacrifices a bit of fuel efficiency, achieving 53.3mpg with CO2 emissions at 119g/km. 

Should you buy, lease or finance the BMW 1 Series? 

Considering a BMW 1 Series? If you want a stylish premium family car with superb build quality, great standard features, and a class-leading infotainment system, it’s a strong choice. 

The 1 Series stands out as one of the best premium family hatchbacks available, ideal for families who want BMW’s reliable reputation.  

To get the ball rolling on your brand-new BMW 1 Series, book a free consultation with one of OSV’s vehicle specialists by clicking the banner below or just grab your phone and give us a call on 01903 538835 and we’d be more than happy to help you get behind the wheel of this premium vehicle. 

Make sure to check out our BMW 1 Series review video if you’d like to see it in action, head over to our list of official OSV Car Reviews to consider your perfect vehicle and subscribe to our YouTube channel for even more motoring content. 

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