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Parkers overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 4.3

Baby BMW doesn’t disappoint

BMW 1-Series Hatchback (19 on) - rated 4.3 out of 5
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PROS

  • Superb refinement
  • Improved practicality
  • Loads of gadgets
  • Strong performance

CONS

  • Tight rear-seat passenger space
  • Disappointing digital dashboard
  • M135i xDrive should be more exciting
  • M Sport adds little standard equipment

At a glance

New price £24,430 - £39,430
Lease from new From £252 per month
Used price £17,660 - £31,500
Used monthly cost £436 - £777
Fuel economy 41 - 74 mpg
Road tax cost £145
Insurance group 16 - 36 How much is it to insure?

PROS

  • Superb refinement
  • Improved practicality
  • Loads of gadgets
  • Strong performance

CONS

  • Tight rear-seat passenger space
  • Disappointing digital dashboard
  • M135i xDrive should be more exciting
  • M Sport adds little standard equipment

BMW 1-Series Hatchback rivals

The smallest and cheapest model in BMW’s range, the 1 Series Sports Hatch is now into its third generation. Having first launched back in 2004, the current model marks the biggest departure yet for the baby BMW, with the company’s new design language giving the car a taller, higher-sided look compared with its sleeker, low-slung ancestors.

In addition, there’s a brand-new platform that’s allowed BMW to cut the length of the 1 Series – a rarity on new cars – yet still provide greater passenger and luggage space than its predecessor. Eagle-eyed observers may also note that this means the powertrain has switched from predominantly rear- to front-wheel drive, a major step-change from previous versions, yet one that few customers are likely to notice in the way the car drives.

BMW hopes that all of the above will be enough to bring the 1 Series back on par with the consistently excellent Volkswagen Golf, Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class, as well as cheaper (yet still highly accomplished rivals) such as the Ford Focus, Mazda 3 and Kia Ceed.

Three diesel engines and two petrols – including M135i xDrive

The 1 Series is available with five engines and three gearbox options. If you want petrol then it’s a straight choice between the 1.5-litre 118i (also the cheapest in the range) and the M135i xDrive hot-hatchback (the most expensive version on offer). The latter is priced as such because it packs 306hp and 450Nm of torque from a four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, good for 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds and a limited top speed of 155mph. It’s the closest like-for-like replacement to the M140i, despite BMW ditching the popular 3.0-litre straight-six cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive layout.

2019 BMW 1 Series Sports Hatch interior

For those who want the fuel economy of a diesel model the 116d doesn’t disappoint, returning a claimed average figure of 61.4mpg and producing as little as 100g/km of CO2. A 2.0-litre 118d and 120d xDrive version are also available. Gearbox options vary depending on model, with some available with both a six-speed manual or seven/eight-speed automatic. 

How big is it? 

Based on the same platform as the X1 and X2 BMW SUVs, the 1 Series is actually 5mm shorter than its predecessor owing, in part, to a rejigged powertrain layout. This hasn’t saved any space with regards to height or width however, where the 1 Series has grown by 13 and 34mm respectively.

The end result is a car that feels more spacious in the cabin and luggage compartment (even if rear headroom is a little tight) yet doesn’t feel any more cumbersome when parking. It’s worth checking your garage size, however, as the increased height and width could be troublesome if you’re swapping out of a previous generation 1 Series.

Four trim levels including M Sport 

The 1 Series is available with three trim levels – SE, Sport and M Sport. All models come as standard with air-con, Bluetooth, BMW Live Cockpit Plus, Apple CarPlay, cruise control, LED headlights and front and rear parking sensors. As is often the case with BMW, upgrading to one of the sportier specs brings little in the way of additional equipment, with the changes more focused on styling and design tweaks.

Upgrade to the M135i xDrive, however, and features such as BMW Live Cockpit Professional (with a 10.25-inch digital dashboard), BMW Operating System 7.0 infotainment system and Connected Package Professional are included on top of/in replacement to other features.

How comfortable is it?

The 1 Series is available with five different suspension types – namely standard suspension, M Sport (lowered by 10mm), M Sport M135i xDrive, adaptive regular dampers and adaptive dampers tuned for M135i xDrive. Quite the selection, and during our test drives with the latter two, we found it erring towards the firmer end of the scale yet stopping short of feeling uncomfortable.

Aside from the suspension, all-round refinement is excellent thanks to low engine, wind and tyre noise, plus a polished feel to the cabin and seats. Even when worked hard, the 118d unit proved hushed and well-mannered, settling down to barely a whisper on the motorway.

Read on to find out if the BMW 1 Series Sports Hatch is the upmarket small family car you've been waiting for.

BMW 1-Series Hatchback rivals

Other BMW 1-Series models: