The move to the UKL2 platform has had a marked effect on the 1 Series’ interior packaging. With no longitudinally mounted engine impinging on cabin space, the 1 Series is now noticeably roomier up front. Admittedly, the low-slung driving position of its predecessor has been compromised somewhat so that you now feel more perched in your chair than before, but it seems a fair trade-off for the comprehensive gains made in general spaciousness.
Moving rearwards, these improvements are even more pronounced. Where the at-times-claustrophobic second-generation 1 Series could only muster a typical rear leg room figure of 690mm (about as much as you’d now expect to get from a supermini in the class below), the new F40 model has 710mm. That 20mm gain might not sound like a huge improvement, but the car’s hip point is also higher – so it’s enough to put quite a bit more space between your knees and the front-seat backs. It’s also more than you’d get from the new A-Class, which we measured at 700mm.
Interestingly but perhaps not surprisingly, our tape measure also recorded a 30mm reduction in rear head room – from 940mm to 910mm. But while you do feel as though you’re perched to an even greater extent in the rear pews than you do in the front, there’s still enough head room here to ensure adults of average height can sit in comfort.
Boot space is up from 360 litres to a Golf-rivalling 380 litres, too, and can extend to 1200 litres with the second row folded down. There is a small lip to navigate but a handy removable false boot floor too, so loading and unloading items is a painless undertaking. Under the real boot floor, meanwhile, you’ll find a bit more storage space as well as a puncture repair and first aid kit.
The BMW’s interior doesn’t quite nail its premium-car brief for material appeal as effortlessly as some of its homeland rivals. It’s bettered by the A-Class for visual wow factor and for solid tactile quality feel, while the cool minimalism of the (admittedly now rather old) A3 still carries a degree more sway with some of our testers. Still, overall build quality is largely good and ease of use is impressive.
All 1 Series models come with BMW’s 8.8in touchscreen as standard, aside from the range-topping M135i xDrive. Our test car had the Live Cockpit Professional system instead, with a larger 10.25in touchscreen as well as a 10.25in digital instrument cluster. This all comes as part of the £1500 Technology Pack 2.