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Small hatchback with the prestigious BMW badge
Available in 3 door and 5 door versions, the BMW 1 Series is one of the best small hatchbacks on the market. A unique combination of sportiness and elegance, each variation is fine tuned to suit different needs, budgets and preferences, with many opportunities for personal customisation.
This second generation, introduced in 2011 and updated in 2015 with revised styling and new engines, has lighter suspension components that significantly improve the ride quality. You can switch between comfort, sport or fuel-saving Eco Pro driving modes which remap the engine and stability to suit your desired driving style; the upshot is greater levels of comfort and refinement as well as improved fuel consumption. And, being the only rear wheel-drive car in its class, it can tackle bends with a degree of balance. .
Performance and economy
BMW’s fresh focus on efficiency is offering up engines with tremendous performance and economy. Every diesel-engine model (even the four-wheel drive versions) average more than 60mpg, while the only petrol model to average less than 40mpg is the M135i – and, given this is a 3 litre sports model, 35mpg is still very impressive.
All versions get satellite navigation (something that none of the BMW’s rivals can boast), alloy wheels, air conditioning and electric windows as well as an MP3-friendly stereo.
Safety is paramount, and the car received a five-star rating from Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme). It comes with a suitably generous package of standard safety related equipment and there are plenty of additional options including radar and camera technology that minimises the chances of collision, protects pedestrians and prevents you from inadvertently straying from your lane.
In the end, what attracts people to this car is its sporty looks and the unmistakeable feel of sitting in a BMW cockpit. Add to that its very low running costs and strong residual value, it’s easy to understand why they’re queuing up for a test drive.
In a nutshell
- One of the best small hatchbacks
- Great performance and economy
- All the safety features you’d expect from a modern car
- Could be more spacious inside
Did you know? At over 80mpg, the 116d model is one of the greenest diesels you can buy.