BMW 1 Series Review 2024

BMW 1 Series At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
Love or hate the exterior design of the BMW 1 Series, it's one of the most complete hatchbacks money can buy. With a cabin that leads the class on quality and usability, plus an enjoyable driving experience and more space than ever, the latest 1 Series is a class act.

+Still an engaging drive even with front-wheel drive, cabin is classy yet easy to get on with, excellent engine range including fun 128ti hot hatch.

-Entry-level SE trim lacks some key kit, challenging exterior styling, disappointing lack of hybrid version

New prices start from £25,365
On average it achieves 0% of the official MPG figure

The BMW 1 Series has always been a popular premium hatchback, but its rear-wheel drive layout brought as many drawbacks as positives. Now the latest model is front or four-wheel drive has it lost that sporting edge? Our 2022 BMW 1 Series review will find out. 

The BMW 1 Series always had a unique selling point in the hatchback class: it was rear-wheel drive, like a sports car or one of BMW's executive saloons. That was supposed to give it a real feeling of balance and poise, and a level of driver appeal above and beyond the competition. 

In reality, though, it was only on the limit that you noticed this. Small wonder then that, when quizzed, the vast majority of BMW 1 Series owners had no clue their car was rear-wheel drive. It brought compromises, too; the car's packaging meant it wasn't roomy in the back, while in normal driving front-wheel drive rivals felt more secure and less likely to suddenly lose traction and spin. 

BMW changed tack with the third-generation 1 Series, launched in 2019 and reviewed here. Sharing a platform with the X1, X2 and MINI Countryman, it became front-wheel drive in standard form, with four-wheel drive as an option.

While that meant you couldn't engage in any oversteer antics with the latest car, it made for a much better all-rounder. The driving experience is actually more composed than before, with agile and sharp handling matched with stability and decent ride comfort. 

Enthusiasts might also bemoan the removal of six-cylinder engine options, but the BMW 1 Series still has a strong range of efficient yet powerful three or four-cylinder turbo petrols and diesels. While there's no weak link in the range, we're surprised BMW hasn't seen fit to offer a business-friendly hybrid model yet. 

The range-topping BMW M135i has 306PS and four-wheel drive, but we reckon the less powerful, front-wheel drive BMW 128ti is actually a more fun hot hatch, more of the time. 

What's more, the BMW 1 Series looks and feels almost as posh inside as its bigger, more expensive siblings. Fit and finish is just as good as the Audi A3 and better than the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, while BMW's iDrive infotainment system is easier to use than both. 

Moving to a front-wheel drive base also means greatly improved cabin space. Sure, it still isn't the roomiest hatchback around, but four adults get a decent level of comfort, while the 380-litre boot is very competitive. 

Like its key German competitors, you pay a premium to buy or lease a BMW 1 Series. That's the same on the used market due to strong residuals, while in terms of spec we'd recommend stepping above the basic SE model to get more desirable equipment. But that's the price you pay (literally) to go premium, and if you can afford to you'll be getting a superb all-rounder in the 2019-on 1 Series. 

Looking for the older model? You'll want our BMW 1 Series (2011-2019) review.

Ask Honest John

What hatchbacks come with a manual gearbox?

"I am looking to change my current Mercedes A200 which has a manual gearbox. Can you suggest a similar size car, with the same spec and a manual gearbox? I intend to purchase a brand new replacement."
Unfortunately the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is not available with a manual gearbox, so we would suggest looking at its key rivals - the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3, both of which are available with a manual gearbox.
Answered by David Ross

Which has the more rear space - the Mercedes A-Class or BMW 1 Series?

"I am looking to buy a new premium hatch and was wondering if you could advise, which of the Mercedes A-Class and BMW 1 Series has more space for rear passengers?"
The BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class are very close on interior space, with the former having slightly more legroom while the latter has a little more headroom, although we are talking a matter of millimetres in difference. Both will fit taller rear passengers with relative ease, but if rear seat space is important cars like the SEAT Leon, Volkswagen Golf and Skoda Octavia are more generous in this respect.
Answered by David Ross

Should I buy a BMW 1 Series or Mercedes-Benz A-Class?

"I'm currently driving a BMW 4 Series which is lovely in terms of comfort, noise insulation and a smooth responsive engine but it's now got 75,000-plus miles and I would like to upgrade the infotainment but maintain the low engine noise in the cabin, no issues with a smaller engine. I'm looking at BMW 1, 2 coupe, Mercedes-Benz A-Class and have budgeted around £20,000.Any suggestions?"
If you can find one within budget, we'd recommend the latest Mercedes A-Class (launched in 2018) - ideally with the optional 10.25-inch infotainment system and 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster. This'll feel a lot newer than a BMW 1 Series or 2 Series for the same price (both will be the previous-generation model) and should be just as comfortable and refined as your 4 Series.
Answered by Andrew Brady

Is a BMW 1 Series expensive to insure?

"How much does it cost to insure the BMW 1 Series? I’m thinking of changing my car but all depends on cost."
It depends on a number of factors personal to you such as your location, your age and occupation, where it's parked and your annual mileage, so you'll need to speak directly to some insurance companies or use a comparison site such as The 1 Series is usually a little more expensive to insure than, say, a Ford Focus, but shouldn't be exceptionally high.
Answered by Lawrence Allan
More Questions

What does a BMW 1 Series cost?