BMW 1 Series (2004 – 2011) Review

BMW 1 Series (2004 – 2011) At A Glance


+Great to drive and superbly built. Wide choice of models, improved from 2007 with Efficient Dynamics. 118d is super economical.

-Not much room in the back. Firm ride on Sport and M Sport models. 116i petrol is fairly lacklustre. Coil and injector problems on later 4-cylinder petrol engines. Timing chain failures on N47 diesel engines becoming very common. Failure of the cat converters on a 118i N42B20 very expensive at dealer prices.

Insurance Groups are between 19–34
On average it achieves 81% of the official MPG figure

When the BMW 1 Series was launched in 2004 the most controversial aspect was the styling which certainly divided opinion. Whether it will become a design classic remains to be seen, but it certainly hasn't put people off and the BMW 1 Series has become one of the most popular premium hatchbacks around.

The first impression you get from the BMW 1 Series is an air of solidity. Like all BMWs, it feels superbly engineered and incredibly well built both inside and out. Just because it's the cheapest model in the BMW line-up, doesn't mean it's a poor relation to the larger cars.

As you'd expect, this BMW is also great once you get behind the wheel. It's rear-wheel drive, which is ideal for grip and agility, so the 1 Series is composed in corners and good fun to drive, even with the smaller engines. That said, the original 116i is best avoided unless you're on a tight budget as it's fairly lacklustre and lacks low down punch. The 118i or 118d are much better choices.

It's certainly not the most spacious of cars either - particularly for rear seat passengers where there's a shortage of leg and headroom for adults. The boot isn't a bad size though and the large tailgate means you can carry some sizeable loads. For practicality there are better cars, but as premium hatchbacks go, the 1 Series is the best all rounder with a great choice of efficient engines.


Real MPG average for a BMW 1 Series (2004 – 2011)


Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

22–60 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

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Ask Honest John

Can we dispute the amount our insurer has valued our written off car at?
"My daughter's BMW 118d 2009 was written off. She refused the insurers offer of £4000 but they still sent her a cheque. How does she stand if a direct replacement is more?"
Contact the insurer and advise that you accept payment on a "without prejudice basis" only (this is if the vehicle is definitely a total loss, i.e the repair costs are more than the car). Advise the insurer that you wish to raise a complaint and dispute the market value. Ask them to provide screen prints of both Glass Guide and CAP guide showing how they valued her car. Then obtain the same your self from another independent source (ask a nice car dealer). You can always if you wish not cash the cheque. I do sometimes recommend this if it may be possible to get the car repaired.
Answered by Tim Kelly
I want to buy a Cat D BMW 1 Series - how do I find out why it was written off?
"I'm thinking of buying a Cat D BMW 1 Series. The seller doesn't know why it was written off. Can you help?"
Unfortunately not, I would suggest you get the vehicle inspected prior to purchase by a qualified Automotive Engineer Assessor. Contact They should be able to point you in the right direction.
Answered by Tim Kelly
Is buying a low mileage diesel car a good idea?
"I'm considering buying a 2010 BMW 118 M Sport Diesel Automatic with only 16,000 miles on the clock. It's in pristine condition, genuine mileage with dealership service history (last service January 2017). Is buying a low mileage diesel car a good idea? What should I be looking for during the test drive?"
N47 diesel engine that has a history of problems with the timing chains and chain tensioners. I ran one of these engines in a 320d ED a few years ago and it doesn't like repeated short runs from cold starts especially at low temperatures and this can promote active regeneration. Apart from all the usual things, the signs of this at the end of your test drive will be a hot smell when you get out and possibly the radiator fan continuing to run after the engine is switched off.
Answered by Honest John
Where can I get a replacement BMW key?
"I have lost my BMW 118d car keys - what is the cheapest reliable source for replacements?"
Links to keys and locksmiths in this directory: The first two on the list apparently give very good, very fast and very cheap service. HJ
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

What does a BMW 1 Series (2004 – 2011) cost?