As BMW unveils the third generation of its most compact hatchback, we take a closer look at what’s available on the used BMW market. If you’re looking for a classy hatchback that oozes style, you can’t go wrong with a used BMW 1 Series. It offers an easy and comfortable drive, all wrapped up in an eye-catching package. What’s not to love?

Unusually for BMW, the popular manufacturer didn’t get it right first time with the original 1 Series launched in 2004. It was a little on the poky side and had some handling issues but buyers were attracted by the wide range of body styles - coupé, convertible or hatchback - and the several different trims on offer. Buyers could practically design their own car! And being a BMW after all, it was always going to be a big seller. 

By the second incarnation, introduced in 2011, the BMW 1 Series had improved on interior space, drives like a dream and is as popular as ever. Here’s what makes it so special…

It’s All In the Name

 BMW steering wheel

While, it’s not entirely all down to the badge on the front of the BMW 1 Series, the name certainly helps. With various slogans such as,The Ultimate Driving Machine’, ‘Sheer Driving Pleasure’ and ‘BMW is Joy’, it’s hard to resist the attraction of cars manufactured by the BMW Group, which now encompasses the iconic MINI.
The UK seems to have a love-hate relationship with BMW drivers,  but you can’t deny the quality of craftsmanship of the cars so it’s no wonder the proud owner of any BMW wants to show it off by testing out its capabilities. The BMW 1 Series allows drivers on a smaller budget to get access to this prestige label. Buy a used BMW 1 Series and you’ll get even more car for your money!

While the base level trim comes fairly well equipped, the most compact BMW is available in a wide range of trims from ES to M104i Championship Edition.  You can pretty much choose the level of refinement on your used BMW 1 Series to include such extras as sports-style suspension and steering, full leather seats and dual-zone air conditioning. Choose wisely, however, as some of the higher specced vehicles are costly to insure and tax.

Beauty Isn’t Just Skin Deep

BMW 1 Series front interior from passenger side.

Unusually for a smaller hatchback, BMW 1 Series models are mostly rear-wheel drive, which will explain the distinctive shape. A long bonnet and curved rear results in a compact, but perfectly formed, interior. Ergonomically, all controls are within easy and natural reach of the driver, and while rear space might be a little tight (as with all hatchbacks), those in the front will enjoy the side supports and manual or electric seat function. You can also treat yourself to heated seats which come with higher spec models. 

The low driving position, high quality cabin trim and excellent iDrive infotainment system are more befitting an executive, sporty saloon, which probably contributes to the BMW 1 Series’ popularity as a company car. On the dashboard, a 6.5-inch screen allows access to the sat nav which is included on most models.

There are still reminders that the BMW 1 Series is a compact hatchback, most notably the option of three or five doors while the boot space of 360L, though not massive, is still comparable to most cars in its class, and increases to a fairly large 1,200L when the rear seats are folded down.

Performance is Everything

Rear-side view of white BMW 1 Series parked in showroom

If you’re considering buying a used BMW 1 Series, you may be more interested in what’s under the bonnet rather than in the cabin. So it’s good to know that there’s lots of choice when it comes to engines. Diesels are available in 1.5L or 2.0L capacity and with power ranging from 93 to 220 bhp. If you’re a fan of petrol, you’ll find even more to choose from with 1.5L, 1.6L, 2.0L and 3.0L engines and power anywhere in the region of 100 to 335 bhp. 

The BMW 1 Series might win on performance over practicality every time but not in a frivolous way. The turbocharged engines provide excellent efficiency, up to an outstanding 83.1 mpg (1.5L 116D).  Economy is no doubt helped by the in-line engine layout and rear-wheel drive that enables equal weight distribution and provides well-balanced handling. 

Unsurprisingly, the most impressive performance can be found in the six-cylinder 3.0L M140i which reaches 62 mph in 4.6 sec from a standing start. Choose a model with xDrive and you’ll not only benefit from the better handling of all-wheel-drive but also bigger wheels and better ground clearance. This will provide better grip and, depending on conditions, quicker response and altogether more speed.

If you prefer a more relaxed drive, there’s also the option of an automatic gearbox on the Performance, SE, Sport, M135i and M140i specs. This might provide better fuel economy in the long run and take some of the stress out of driving.

Time to Pick Your BMW 1 Series?

If you like the thought of an easy-to-handle prestige car and don’t want to compromise on looks or performance, the BMW 1 Series could be the car for you. Take a closer look at our range of quality used BMW 1 Series models at the Motor Range showroom or online, and book a test drive today. Get ready to be impressed!