An entertaining drive, high quality and with a range of engines that goes from extremely economical to extremely quick, the BMW 1 Series has it all – on paper, at least. Unfortunately its rear-wheel drive set-up – unique in the family hatchback segment – means it loses a little space compared to rivals like the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus.
Because it`s a premium car the BMW 1 Series looks relatively pricey, though it`s very well equipped across the range and its residual values are excellent, meaning it`s not as expensive as it may seem. All engines are strong performers, with the diesels offering good low-rev flexibility and the range-topping M140i a truly rapid hot hatchback.
The BMW 1 Series can trace its roots back to 2004 when it was launched as a replacement for the 3 Series Compact. The second generation arrived in 2012 before a facelift was unveiled at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.
The so-called `sports hatch` is available as a three and five-door, squaring up to its key rivals in the premium hatchback sector, most notably the Mercedes A-Class and Audi A3, but also the Volkswagen Golf, Lexus CT and Volvo V40.
As the only rear-wheel drive car in its class, the 1 Series has a major USP, especially for keener drivers, but `fun to drive` dynamics come at the expense of ultimate practicality.
A range update was rolled out in July 2017, with the highlights including minor interior and exterior styling tweaks for higher trim levels, plus infotainment and technology upgrades and a new `Shadow Edition` trim.