2020 BMW 1 Series Review

5/5

Overview

The 2020 BMW 1 Series is all new from the ground up with BMW even eschewing their traditional rear-wheel-drive set up in favour of front-wheel power. Very much a case of a leopard changing his spots then! All models are now front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive with transverse three and four-cylinder engines. All of this means the new more mainstream 1 Series has more space than the previous model, with less weight and more efficiency. You can choose from the 118i petrol (140 hp), 116d diesel (116 hp), 118d diesel (150 hp), a more powerful 120d diesel (190 hp) or the range topping M135i with 306 hp and all-wheel drive (from €52,850)

Pros
  • Multi-link rear suspension as standard across the range
  • Extensive list of standard equipment
  • Practical interior with lots of storage space
  • Well-trusted and efficient engine range
  • Eye-catching new styling
Cons
  • BMW’s digital dial display not quite as good as on some rivals

Exterior

The latest 1 Series is roughly the same length as the previous generation but is now slightly wider as well as being slightly taller. The transversely mounted engine makes the bonnet a bit shorter while the overall stance is quite squat, which when coupled with the sharks mouth kidney-grille gives it a more aggressive, masculine road presence. The funky looking tail-lights and rear haunches hint as the sporting pedigree and potential prowess underneath the hot hatch exterior. 

Interior

One of the primary reasons for changing the 1 Series from rear wheel drive to front wheel drive was to free up boot space. It is a decision which has reaped dividends as there as now 380 litres of space in the rear along with split rear seats - perfect for trips to Scandi furniture outlets. It’s not just in the boot where there is more space as rear passengers now have plenty of head and leg room. The quality and layout of the dashboard is of the highest calibre with rock-solid build quality and it is ergonomically excellent. The centrepiece of the dash is the easy to use iDrive infotainment system which is controlled by a neat binnacle in the centre console. There is also a great driving position thanks to the multiple levels of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel. 

Performance

The entry level 118i three-cylinder petrol turbo is smooth, responsive and surprisingly brisk with 138 bhp and a 0 – 100 kmph time 8.5 seconds. The six-speed manual gearbox has a direct shift and a clear biting point, making it intuitive to drive.

Reliability

All 1 Series came with three-year unlimited mileage warranty and – so far- have an excellent reliability record.  

Running Costs

Apart from the M135i xDrive, all models are between 100g/km and 120g/km CO2 which puts them into the cheaper tax brackets. Having said that, even the aforementioned M135i delivers upwards of 35 miles per gallon. The 118d is the biggest seller on the Irish market and it returns a combined cycle of 60 miles per gallon. 

Handling

Considering most cars come with 18-inch or 19-inch wheels the ride is surprisingly good with nicely weighted, accurate steering. BMW’s adaptive suspension enables you to take corners with ease where the multilink suspension at the rear in every model has improved ride and handling immeasurably over the previous generation. A satisfying car to drive that feels keen on the road. 

Safety

The 2020 BMW 1 Series was awarded a five-star NCAP safety rating and it’s not hard to see why with an extensive list of all the latest safety equipment and features as standard. 

Summary

Exterior
80%
Interior
90%
Performance
80%
Reliability
90%
Running Costs
90%
Handling
90%
Safety
100%

The 2020 BMW 1 Series is all new from the ground up with BMW even eschewing their traditional rear-wheel-drive set up in favour of front-wheel power. Very much a case of a leopard changing his spots then! All models are now front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive with transverse three and four-cylinder engines. All of this means the new more mainstream 1 Series has more space than the previous model, with less weight and more efficiency. You can choose from the 118i petrol (140 hp), 116d diesel (116 hp), 118d diesel (150 hp), a more powerful 120d diesel (190 hp) or the range topping M135i with 306 hp and all-wheel drive (from €52,850)