The latest BMW 1 Series is packed with high-end features and is guaranteed to deliver performance to match its sporty styling. Comfort levels are good and the safety spec is excellent.
The goodStyle, driving dynamics and on-board technology
The badStiff opposition out there
BMW 118i M Sports Hatch (2021)
With sharper styling, a more spacious cabin and lots of extra cutting edge on-board technology, BMW’s latest 1 Series is a compact family car with real attitude.
The five-door hatchback is powered by a range of efficient petrol or diesel engines, with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions and even the option of all-wheel drive.
We selected the 118i M Sport version driven by a 1.5-litre, three cylinder petrol engine matched to a six-speed manual gearbox. This latest powertrain, delivering 140hp (an increase of 4hp over the outgoing car) and 220Nm of torque, is cleaner and more efficient with CO2 emissions cut by 29g/km.
The car was priced at £29,375, increased to £34,980 with options, and could sprint from 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds with a maximum speed of 132mph. And according to official figures, under stricter WLTP testing, the 1 Series could deliver up to 47.1mpg with carbon emissions from 114g/km on a combined run.
The third generation car boasts a more aggressive look, especially in M Sport guise with a larger kidney grille and the kidney shapes merging in the middle for the first time, a shorter bonnet, a more pronounced front end and upgraded lights.
An optional M Sport Pro pack costing £1,800 added M Sport brakes with blue calipers, M Sport seat belts, an M Sport spoiler and 18-inch Orbit Grey alloys.
The predominantly black interior is generously equipped with power-adjustable Black Dakota leather sports seats with memory settings, a leather-wrapped sports steering wheel, an 8.8-inch touchscreen and snazzy new-look tft screen behind the wheel.
Creature comforts are plentiful and include a head-up display (as part of an optional pack), Harman Kardon audio system, smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay (plus Android Auto on BMWs with Operating System 7), a DAB radio, Bluetooth, heated seats and steering wheel, plus lots more besides.
Accessing the many on-board systems is a simple process via an iDrive controller dial, steering wheel buttons, voice control or even gesture control that means waving your hand around beneath the rearview mirror to lower the volume on the radio or accept an incoming call etc. Quirky stuff.
Out on the open road, the 1 Series is nicely balanced and can be pushed on into tight bends with confidence. There is ample power on tap from the three-pot engine and the steering is well weighted with plenty of feedback.
The 1 Series is no longer rear-wheel drive, which will be greeted with mixed views from driving purists, but the front-wheel drive model is beautifully poised and shows a real keenness to perform, especially on the quieter country lanes.
There are various drive modes to switch through called Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport that alter the responses of the vehicle with Sport being the most engaging. But with its firm M Sport suspension, which is lowered by 10mm, expect to feel some bumps and dips along the way.
When it comes to practicality, the cabin boasts extra space inside the latest car, especially for back seat passengers who are treated to more leg room. And the boot is practically-sized too with a 20-litre increase in capacity. This means it can swallow 380 litres of kit, increasing to 1,200 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped down.
And as one would expect, the 1 Series is packed with safety systems that helped it achieve a maximum five stars when tested for its Euro NCAP rating.
On top of the standard safety features our test car had a Technology Pack costing £1,250, that added the head-up display, high beam assistant, adaptive LED headlights, park distance control and a parking assistant that will automatically help park the car.
All in all, the latest 1 Series delivers impressive driving dynamics in a neatly packaged compact hatchback that’s very easy on the eye and also competitively priced.
BMW 125i M Sport Coupe
IT may be billed as BMW’s baby hatch, but believe me, this baby packs a grown-up punch.
Boasting amazing power, first-class specifications and an edge-of-the-seat ride, the One Series delivers blistering acceleration and superb road-holding capabilities no matter what the weather.
And if you are lucky enough to test out the model with M Sport spec, you are certainly in for the drive of your lifetime with deceptively powerful acceleration.
BMW is world-renowned for its build quality and luxurious finishes and this vehicle certainly lives up to the name’s high expectations too, with features including automatic air con complete with micro filter, rain sensors, central locking, courtesy lighting, automatic headlight controls, an interior auto-dimming rearview mirror and on-board computer.
Safety technology is in abundance with parking sensors, side impact protection, a passenger seat occupancy sensor, six airbags, run-flat tyres and a tyre puncture warning system, plus more familiar features like dynamic stability control, brake force distribution and a whole lot more.
But for me, the One Series is so much more than luxurious styling. At times, the awesome power and sheer driving prowess almost leaves you speechless and with six gears the power just keeps on coming.
Inside, it is deceptively spacious and there is also plenty of room for luggage too.
All in all, anyone who simply loves driving and wants to add the bonuses of luxury, comfort and thrills need look no further.