The BMW 1 Series: Is it worth it?

Recently, I had the misfortune of being in a car accident. I was fine, but a quick note here, when driving, please do not take your eyes off the road. If you hit someone, it quite often leaves them feeling pretty beaten up and not best pleased. The lives and health of other drivers are, surprisingly, more important than your text/quick chat with the person in the back seat/changing the CD, etc.

Luckily after this misfortune, I was given a brand new BMW 1 Series M to try out for a few weeks. I did try for a Ferrari as a like for like replacement for my Golf, but the insurers weren’t having it, tight wads.

So, what did I think of it?



Let’s not muck about, this thing will fly. If you want to put your foot down in it, you had better have a lot of clear road ahead of you. Even in comfort mode, the acceleration is fantastic. There’s no jerkiness in the semi-automatic, it will fly through the gears and up the road before you’ve had time to blink.

But it’s a BMW, so what else were you expecting? They’ve taken all the comfort and drivability normally found in their saloons and packed it into a hatchback. It swoops round corners, is fairly stable even if you take them fairly hard and just chews through the miles as you would expect from a top of the range hatchback with well over 200bhp.

No, it’s not as gentle a ride as a saloon, but it’s certainly more forgiving on Britain’s beaten up country roads than my Golf is, and far outclasses its closest other German rival, the Audi A3 Sportback, in ride quality. Mind you, a horse and cart is probably more comfortable than the A3 sadly.

Should the mood take you, it has a number of different driving modes: Eco, sport etc. The difference between them is small but perceptible. 

Unlike the Golf or the A3, it’s rear wheel drive. Personally, I’m not a fan of rear wheel drive, but each to their own. Yes, it adds to driving experience, and yes, you can do donuts and flick out the back end if the mood takes you, but let’s face it, most of the time we’re driving because we want to get somewhere, and Britain’s roads are getting too crowded, and too sensible for that kind of action.

Also, rear wheel drive cars don’t tend to like slippery conditions. The 1 Series was actually fine through the spring rain that I was driving it in, but trying to get the thing to manoeuvre round a fairly tight gravel driveway was far less easy than in the Golf — lots of wheel spin, a chewed up driveway and not much movement.

It’s small

Perhaps the biggest problem with it is its size. It’s small. It’s nowhere near as big as the Golf inside. At 5’8″, I’m above average height, but not exactly a gigantor and there were times when head height was an issue for me, as was leg room for the passenger behind me. To be honest, rear passenger space is so limited, unless you want to carry midgets in the back, it’s pretty much pointless.

I also don’t think it looks particularly nice. There’s no sleekness or finesse to it in the body styling. In all honesty, looking at its profile, I’m reminded of a boot, but I’ve never been a fan of BMW styling, so each to their own.


Would I buy one?

The 1 Series is a great car in many ways, it’s a joy to drive and there were more than a few times I took it out just for the sheer joy of driving the thing, of pushing hard round corners and feeling the majestic acceleration.

If you don’t care about passenger space and you want a small car with saloon quality driving, I’d say go for it. But overall would I personally pick one over the Golf? Probably not.

What do you think of the 1 Series? Have your say in the comments section below.