This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest BMW 1-Series Hatchback review.

Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

The 1-Series hatchback has a choice of seven engines. Since 2006 all have come with six-speed manual transmission as standard, although earlier versions of the 116i and 118i will have five-speed gearboxes. The petrol powered models are both swift and refined, although the 1.6-litre petrol needs to be worked hard to get the best from it. In March 2009 this was replaced by a 2.0-litre engine (already used in the 118i and 120i) but with power at 122bhp.

Thanks to more pulling power it's less strained and acceleration times are slightly quicker too. The range topper was the 265bhp 130i - it's as quick and responsive as you'd expect while the lightweight six-cylinder engine sounds glorious as it revs up to its 7000rpm red line, however it was phased out in 2007. It's the diesels - 118d, 120d and the later 123d and 116d which are most impressive.

Most of the engines were upgraded in May 2007 with improvements in performance, perhaps the most notable being the 118d where power was upped from 122bhp to 143bhp. This engine is the pick of the range thanks to its blend of strong performance, superb economy and cheap road tax. All three diesel models in the 1-Series actually use the same 2.0-litre engine - but in different outputs.

However thanks to two turbochargers the 123d has an output of 204bhp. This gives it hot hatch-like performance with a 0-62mph time of just 6.9 seconds while in-gear acceleration is even more impressive. This doesn't come at the expense of economy though as it still returns 54mpg. The 116d - launched in March 2009 - returns a very impressive 64mpg but still manages 0-62mph in a respectable 10.2 seconds.

The rear-wheel-drive 1-Series doesn't disappoint on the road and is as much a driver's car as larger BMWs. It's well-balanced, corners precisely and has good body control plus the steering is excellent too - well weighted in corners, with good feedback. There's plenty of grip, even in the wet and a sophisticated rear suspension set-up means that ride comfort is excellent over all surfaces, even with the harder than normal run-flat tyres fitted.

The M Sport models carry over the same mechanical upgrades as the Sport models (lower, stiffer suspension) but with various styling enhancements and 'M' branding. On the 130i the M Sport model has 18-inch wheels and wider, narrower section tyres at the rear as well as the styling kit. You certainly feel the road more but the pay-off is an even higher level of grip and a more focused feel to the car when pressing on.

Active steering is available as an option on 130i models for better precision at high speeds and less effort at lower speeds, but don't bet on seeing the £925 it initially cost when you come to sell the car.