BMW 1-Series Hatchback (2011 -) Driving & Performance

Review by Simon McBride on
Last Updated: 08 Feb 2016
4.5
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but you would have to be a bit of BMW fan to believe the original 1 Series was a good looking hatchback. In fact its long bonnet and rounded rear-end made it look as though it had been prodded a little with the ugly stick.

4.5 out of 5

Performance

Five engines will be available from launch, meaning there is a wide range of BMW 1 Series performance options.

BMW 1 Series petrol engines

This is the first time a BMW four-cylinder petrol engine has been fitted with TwinPower Turbo technology.

The new 116i four-cylinder twin turbo produces 136hp and has 220Nm of pulling power. It can get to 62mph in 8.5 seconds and it has a top speed of 130mph.

The 118i makes 170bhp and it has a peak pulling power of 250Nm. It can complete the benchmark sprint in 7.4 seconds and has a top speed of 140mph.

The 116i needs to be worked a little harder than the other engines in the line-up, especially when completing overtaking manoeuvres. Both the 116i and the 118i are swift and refined, however.

BMW 1 Series diesel engines

The entry level diesel is the 116d, which can complete the benchmark sprint in 10.3s and has a top speed of 124mph. The 118d is a little quicker - it can get from zero to 62mph in 8.9s and tops out at 132mph.

The top of the range 184hp 120d is the quickest diesel engine on the 1-Series line-up and the pick of the bunch here. It can complete the dash to 62mph in 7.2 seconds, and has a top speed of 142mph, making it the liveliest engine available plus an average economy of 62.8mpg with the manual gearbox and 64.2mpg with the automatic gearbox.

The 1-Series is available with either a six-speed manual transmission or a new eight-speed automatic transmission. The latter is available in Sport configuration and features shift paddles on the steering wheel.

2015 updates

The 1 Series received a mild facelift in 2015 which saw the introduction of BMW Group’s new engine family which includes the latest EfficientDynamics technology. The engine revisions have resulted in a reduction in fuel consumption of up to 12 per cent plus all engines meet the stringent Euro6 standards.

For the optimum running costs, the new 116d EfficientDynamics Plus model offers 83.1mpg with CO2 emissions of just 89g/km and will be the ideal choice for company car drivers. The 118d, 120d and 125d all use the same four-cylinder diesel engine in three different tuning set ups, ranging from 148bhp to 221bhp.

4.5 out of 5

Handling

The only rear-wheel drive car in the class is still one of the most enjoyable to drive. Thanks to the inline engine layout and rear-wheel drive powertrain, the 1 Series has an equal weight distribution right across the car. The engineers have made this version 51mm wider at the front and 71mm at the rear while the suspension has been enhanced. These dimensions have helped the car to become even better than the previous model.

It’s well-balanced, corners brilliantly and has good body control thanks to its sports suspension. The variable sports steering is excellent too - well-weighted with good feedback. Even in the wet there is a lot of grip and the ride comfort is not as firm as the previous generation. A large part of the 1 Series development has been done on rough and bumpy UK roads and goes some way to explaining why it‘s so good.