This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest BMW 1-Series Hatchback review.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
  • Impeccably clear instruments and buttons
  • Well-assembled but not exactly luxurious
  • iDrive multimedia system is standard-setter

When it comes to providing one of the best driving positions in this corner of the market, the BMW 1 Series Sports Hatch has the competition licked.

There’s an excellent range of adjustment for both the steering wheel and the seat – which can be set sportily low. But be conscious that it’s not the roomiest of cabins and the rear-seat dweller immediately aft of the driver is likely to be less enthralled.

One particular highlight of the cabin is the iDrive system – a rotary dial surrounded by buttons to navigate the multimedia system. Many rivals have launched similar systems since BMW debuted its original back in 2002, but with frequent honing it remains the most intuitive.

Although its well-made, it conspires to not feel as special as the cabin of the Audi A3 or even the Volkswagen Golf, feeling more functional than blessed with flair. But, importantly, everything is logically located and the switchgear feels like it was stand the test of time.

  • There’s a paucity of interior space
  • Bag a front seat – they’re far comfier
  • Adaptive suspension’s an extra-cost option

Although this generation of 1 Series Sports Hatch is comfier than its predecessor, BMW still has work to do in this regard to get even with its competition, let alone surge ahead.

Its biggest problem is how compact the cabin is, with little rear legroom and a high transmission tunnel where the centre rear passenger would ideally locate their feet. Four adults would be a squeeze in a 1 Series, never mind five. 

Things are much better if you’re fortunate enough to inhabit one of the front berths, with plenty of adjustment whether the seats are manually- or electrically-adjustable. There's plenty of side support too which helps keep you hemmed in when driving more enthusiastically.

One point of note is that taller drivers might find it trickier getting in and out of five-door versions as the seat’s likely to be set significantly rearward compared with the door pillar.

Most 1 Series buyers go for the M Sport trim which means an appreciably firmer ride. There are two ways to negate this: opt for the moderately expensive but excellent Adaptive M Sport Suspension system or, for free, go for the standard springs.

Road roar, as well as wind and tyre noise, are acceptable, and not overly intrusive, making the 1 Series a pleasant place to be.