It’s fair to say that the BMW 1 Series isn’t the maverick it used to be. Gone is the rear-wheel-drive layout and the option of a rorty straight-six engine. Instead, this third-generation model, introduced in 2019, features more conventional front- and four-wheel-drive set-ups and offers three- and four-cylinder engines only. Nevertheless, there’s still a lot to like about this 1 Series, especially if you shop for a used one.
There’s plenty of performance on offer, for starters, even in base 118i form: it has a 1.5-litre turbo triple petrol with 138bhp. Diesel cars begin with the 113bhp 116d and work through from there to the 2.0-litre 118d with 148bhp and the 187bhp 120d, which has four-wheel drive.
In terms of fast 1 Series variants, there’s the 128ti, with a 261bhp 2.0-litre engine, and the M135i. The latter is the most powerful car in the current line-up. It has a 302bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine that sends its power to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It’s quick, punchy and can do 0-62mph in only 4.8sec
Fuel economy isn’t an issue in any 1 Series. The 116d gets an impressive official average of 61.4mpg, while the 118i can boast 47.1mpg. Even the M135i achieves a decent 35.3mpg.
The trim levels are SE, Sport and M Sport. SE models have 16in alloys, LED headlights, climate control, front and rear parking sensors and an 8.8in infotainment screen.
Sport brings bigger, 17in wheels and more supportive sports seats in the front, along with dual-zone climate control.
M Sport gets you sharper exterior and interior styling touches, plus 18in alloys. M Sport Plus Pack models have upgraded 19in wheels, as well as adaptive suspension to stiffen or soften the ride accordingly.
The 1 Series gives a strong initial impression of its sportiness on the road, with quick steering and little body lean in corners. Grip is good and, with the M Sport Plus Pack’s excellent brakes, it stops keenly.