Emotionally and intellectually satisfying if you can live with the compact interior and ride.

Our Verdict

BMW 1 Series

Measures up on comfort and space, but the BMW 1 Series is still boring to drive

  • First Drive

    BMW 120d xDrive

    Adaptive four-wheel drive adds winter safety and dynamic interest to the BMW 1-series’ solid base at a potentially attractive premium
  • First Drive

    BMW 125i M Sport

    Slip through the six-speed manual gearbox and progress feels swift and incredibly smooth

What’s new?

A mild facelift, but it’s a mini technical tour de force. There’s a completely re-designed second-generation common-rail diesel engine, which is lighter and more compact.

An automatic stop-start system, active aerodynamics, low-resistance tyres and automatically de-coupling alternator and air-con compressor also all help shave back the fuel consumption.

What’s it like?

The makeover has improved the cabin quality, which is now first-rate, and the previously rock-hard ride is a tad more forgiving.

A digital shift indicator on the dash encourages early upshifts of the six-speed ’box for maximum economy. We saw 77mpg on 45mph rural roads and 57mpg on 70mph motorway running. This might improve with more miles under the wheels. Even so, there’s no lack of pace with the pedal hard down and the 1-series is a notably tidy and well-balanced car.

Should I buy one?

The eco-driver’s car of the future? Effectively a scaled down 3-series, the 120d delivers real-world Prius-humbling economy. The three-door version is slightly cheaper and better looking.

Down-tuned 118d has marginally less go and flexibility, for a £1400 saving and the ability to top 60mpg. Emotionally and intellectually satisfying if you can live with the compact interior and ride.

Join the debate


26 June 2012

Why do you persist in labelling the 1 Series boring - I have had a 123d for over 4 years and there is no other 4 cylinder diesel that can get close to it in performance.

Handling is exactly what I would expect (and want) from something with RWD (thank you BMW) and economy is fine, although a 120d would probably be better as the 123d seems to be deliberately low-geared to enhance its performance.

An all round marvel!

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