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Which BMW 1 Series is best to buy?

The BMW 1 Series is a popular car with a range of brilliant models – but which one is best for you? 

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Best BMW 1 Series models

The BMW 1 Series is a massively popular car that’s favoured by motorists in need of something luxurious that’s not too bulky to drive.

It’s a great first step into the world of premium cars or the perfect option for those in the market for a smaller model.

There are a few BMW 1 Series models to pick from, so you have a choice of features, engines and styling.

You can find plenty of used BMW models as well, so you can grab a bargain on this luxury car.

1 Series SE

While we don’t think that any 1 Series model deserves the label of ‘entry-level’, that’s exactly what the BMW 1 Series SE model sets out to be.

If we hadn’t told you that, you’d probably still think this was further up the food chain – it’s heavily kitted out, brilliantly styled, and a really enjoyable drive.

On the outside, 16-inch alloy wheels look sleek against the recognisable shape of the 1 Series.

But if it’s what’s inside that counts for you, the interior gets a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen that comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard in all models after 2020. It was an optional extra from 2017 to 2019, so you might still be able to find older models with these features.

There are a few engines available in the SE range – two petrol and two diesel, with a choice of manual or automatic gears.

The 116D model might be the best choice if you plan on making lots of long trips, as you can get up to 61mpg.

The automatic 1.5-litre petrol model is better suited to those after something speedier but doesn’t feel overpowering for daily use.

1 Series Sport

A red BMW 1 Series model driving on a track

After the SE comes the 1 Series Sport – a sleek model that really lives up to its name.

The Sport gets an exhaust upgrade and larger 17-inch alloys, plus an additional Sport+ driving mode and launch control.

While the SE is still fun to drive, the Sport model does feel more feisty on the roads. There are additional engines on offer too, including a 2.0-litre diesel that offers 187hp.

The other petrol and diesel offerings are largely similar to those of the SE, just turned up a notch with the extra driver mode.

Inside is just as impressive – you get all the kit in the SE model plus upgraded sports seats and a three-spoke, black leather steering wheel.

There’s a 380-litre boot at the rear too, which is slightly larger than what the Mercedes A-Class has on offer.

The Sport trim is best suited for motorists who enjoy the styling of the 1 Series models but would appreciate some sportier details. Paired with the extra engine options, it’s a more sophisticated car for the ‘boy racer’ hiding inside all of us.

1 Series M135i xDrive

A yellow BMW 1 Series M135i model

The 1 Series M135i xDrive model is a fierce hot hatch that replaces the BMW M140i, which is now only available on the used market.

This is a great choice for potential 1 Series owners who want something that’s a lot of fun, with a 1.0-litre petrol engine that supplies just over 300hp and can hit 0-62mph in just 4.8 seconds.

It’s not just fast – it's also comfortable to drive. An eight-speed automatic gearbox offers quick gear changes, and it feels smooth despite its power.

The M135i xDrive also gets all the tech and features that come with the coveted BMW M Sport trim. This includes an upgraded 10.3-inch infotainment screen, front and rear parking sensors and larger 18-inch alloys.

You’ll also enjoy LED headlights, heated front seats, and dual-zone climate control.

1 Series 128ti

An image of the BMW 1 Series 128ti model

In the 1 Series 128ti model, ‘ti’ stands for Turismo Internazionale’ and puts it in with a group of BMW models that have a loyal fan club.

In general, the 128ti model is deserving of those legions of fans – its impressive fuel economy pairs well with an exciting drive and gives you the best of both worlds, all while looking undoubtably attractive.

You’ll get 260hp from the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, plus added limited-slip differential and an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It’ll also hit 0-62mph in just 6.1 seconds.

Features that make this car comfortable to drive include a heated steering wheel and voice control that allows you to ask the car questions and get friendly with it.

It’s practical too, with a 380-litre boot that can extend to 1200 litres with the seats folded, should you ever need to make the space.

Which trim level will suit you best?

If your only struggle right now is choosing which BMW 1 Series is right for you, you're doing pretty well – this is a brilliant lineup of cars that really ticks boxes.

The entry-level 1 Series SE is a great starting point for a first luxury car, giving you entry into the BMW owners club at a lower price than the top-range models. Better still, it’s still seriously kitted out.

The 1 Series Sport is a great next step from the SE model or the better choice for those of us who like a more aggressive look. It has a sportier feel all round (shocker) and is a lot of fun to drive.

If you’re looking for something that comes with even more kit and a range of peppy engines, you might struggle to pick between the 1 Series M135i xDrive or the 128ti.

These both get additional tech and a more premium feel, but the M135i does offer more power.

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