Review: BMW 1 Series (2019)


BMW 1 Series now front wheel drive and better for it. Initially from £24,430 for 118i. DCT auto with lower power engines shifts smoothly and pleasantly.

Very long and complicated list of equipment and options can easily bump price of M135i past £40,000.

Recently Added To This Review

9 October 2019

BMW 1-Series F40 awarded 5-Star NCAP rating: 83% Adult Occupant Protection; 87% Child Occupant Protection; 76% Vulnerable Road User Protection (pedestrians, etc.); 72% Safety Assist. Read more

24 September 2019

BMW F40 118i DCT and M135i xDrive both road tested here . 118i DCT works well and very smoothly. M135i xDrive is a 'must have' kind of car combining a very tractable and pleasant 306HP engine with... Read more

27 May 2019

New BMW 1 Series 4,319mm long x 1,795mm wide x 1,434mm high on 2,670mm wheelbase. 16-inch wheels with 205/55 R16 tyres 17-inch wheels with 225/45 R17 tyres 18-inch wheels with 225/40 R18 tyres... Read more

BMW 1 Series (2019): At A Glance

The 2020 BMW 1 Series shares a platform with the X1, X2 and MINI Countryman - meaning, for the first time ever, standard models are now front-wheel drive. This brings it in line with rivals, and offers more space inside - especially in the rear seats and boot, which now offers 380 litres of luggage space.

It's powered by a mix of three- and four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, with the range starting with a 140PS 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol badged the 118i.

The potent M135i xDrive features all wheel-drive and a 2.0-litre 306PS four-cylinder petrol - making it a rival to the likes of the Mercedes-AMG A35 and VW Golf R. It will reach 62mph in 4.8 seconds while top speed is limited to 155mph.

Inside, the new 1 Series features lots of tech as seen in the bigger 3 Series. All but the entry-level models get a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster in place of conventional dials, while a 10.25-inch display in the centre of the dashboard can also be specced.

Apple CarPlay is standard for the first year, but will cost you a subscription afterwards - while Android Auto isn't available.

An Alexa-like personal assistant responds to 'Hey BMW' commands, while a digital key lets owners unlock their car using their phone if the Comfort Access option is specified.

Buyers can select from SE, Sport and M Sport trims as well as the range-topping M135i xDrive, each with their own individual style - such as high-gloss black highlights on Sport models and Dakota leather with contrast stitching on the M Sport.

Prices start at £24,430 for the 118i, while the M135i xDrive is available from £36,430. The diesel range is made up of the 116d (£25,480), 118d (£26,640) and the 120d xDrive Sport (£32,470).

BMW 1 Series 2019 Road Test

What does a BMW 1 Series (2019) cost?

List Price from £24,725
Buy new from £22,153
Contract hire from £234.92 per month
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BMW 1 Series (2019): What's It Like Inside?

Length -
Width -
Height -
Wheelbase 2670 mm

Full specifications

The new front-drive or xDrive 4WD 1 Series are 5mm shorter than the previous rear-drive F20 1-Series, but with transverse engines are much more spacious inside, with 33mm extra rear legroom and a decent 380 litre load capacity.

340mm greater width give the driver and front passenger 42mm more elbow room and the load area is now 67mm wider at 1,020mm between the wheelarches and 1,150mm behind them for golf bags, etc. An electric tailgate is now optional as a standalone extra or as part of the Comfort Pack.

The F40 1-Series offers an array of driver assistant systems, together with BMW head-up display, BMW Digital Key, BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant and BMW Live Cockpit Plus. 

The driver gets a TFT instrument cluster with satnav instructions between the two dials and, if he specifies a Technology Pack, he also gets a full colour head up display in the screen which, as well as satnav instructions, shows his speed digitally against the prevailing speed limit.

The central Control Display is touchscreen or iDrive operated, while controls for the heating, air conditioning and new hexagonal air vents are grouped together in the centre console below the Control Display. Apple CarPlay is standard for the first year, but will cost you a subscription afterwards - while Android Auto isn't available.

With the Start/Stop button and gear selector lever now also located in the control panel in the lower section of the centre console, all the controls relating to driving functions are clustered together in one area. This includes the iDrive Touch Controller used to control the infotainment system.

The M135i has M Sport seats with integrated headrest design finished in Trigon Cloth/Alcantara Anthracite upholstery.


Child seats that fit a BMW 1 Series (2019)

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What's the BMW 1 Series (2019) like to drive?

The BMW 1 Series features the same ‘actuator contiguous’ wheel slip limitation (ARB) technology used in the BMW i3s. It has the effect of significantly improving traction when pulling away, cornering or when driving in the wet. The system works very quickly,  in close tandem with the DSC system to significantly reduce power understeer.

The 118i features a 140HP version of the UK Hams Hall built B38 1.5-litre 3-cylinder engine as used the MINI, together with a 7-speed dry clutch DCT, as also featured in the MINI. There were no paddles on our car, but it didn’t need them, shifting smoothly and sensibly up and down the gears and offering a very pleasant drive. Ride quality, even on 225/40 R18 tyres wasn’t bad either, but don’t be misled into ordering 19-inch wheels with 235/35 R19 tyres because on them it becomes rock hard.

Despite a significant 306HP from its Hams Hall, Brit-built B48 2.0 litre 4-cylinder engine, the M135i is surprisingly calm and docile until you put your foot down, while the xDrive with Torsen limited slip front differential provides significantly more security on greasy roads than the rather frightening old M140i. It’s a very likable car, a step up from a VW Golf GTI TCR, for example, and not massively more expensive until you start digging into the options list. Keep yourself under control and you can actually drive one away for £34,995, well under the £40k limit and the prospect of £465 a year VED from years 2 to 6. 


Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
116d - 10.3 s 100 g/km
116d Automatic - 10.1 s 100 g/km
118d - 8.5 s 108 g/km
118d Automatic - 8.4 s 109 g/km
118i - 8.4–8.5 s 121 g/km
118i Automatic - 8.5 s 114 g/km
120d Automatic - 7.0 s 117 g/km
M135i - 4.8 s 155 g/km

What have we been asked about the BMW 1 Series (2019)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Are there any three-door hatchbacks to replace my old Audi A3 with?

I have an old three-door Audi A3. I was thinking of buying a three-door Volkswagen Gold but understand these are discontinued so I'm concerned that three-door hatchbacks are becoming rare. I want another three-door of similar size as this is the easiest for a dog to get in and out of; a much gentler gradient onto the back seat and wider area in the footwell with the front seat folded forward. What do you suggest?
I don't think you'll find a new three-door car the same size as your A3, I'm afraid. The three-door Golf is being discontinued but some dealers still have pre-registered examples in as-new condition in stock, so that might be your best option if you act quickly. You could also consider nearly-new examples of the outgoing BMW 1 Series.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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