BMW 1-Series

We're now 10 months into our year with the BMW 1-Series, what we want to know is how's it shaping up?

  • Performance, handling, economy, dealer service, strong brakes, slick gearbox.
  • Cramped back seats, costly options, alloy wheels blemished, small boot.

We're now 10 months into our year with the BMW 1-Series. So how's it shaping up? Well, I'm happy to report I always look forward to getting back behind the wheel of the 120d.

In fact, with no family to put pressure on the car's limited practicality, it suits me down to the ground. Its compact dimensions and torquey engine take the sting out of my commute to and from Kent, and when the road clears, I love the rear-wheel-drive dynamics.

There are flaws, though - and the hard ride on the run-flat tyres is a chief concern. I haven't found it too unforgiving, but as an experiment we tried a different brand of tyre, switching from Michelin Pilot to Continental PremiumContact rubber.

It was difficult to detect any ride or grip differences in normal driving - both tyres seemed well suited to the 1-Series. However, the run-flats' stiff sidewalls made life difficult for the fitters, and they marked the alloys with their tyre iron when levering the rubber off, which was irritating. As it is, the rims have become pitted, despite regular cleaning, and it looks as if the wheel lacquer isn't doing its job.

Still, there's little else I can fault on the 120d. Even the optional iDrive interior control system is logical to use once you learn its little idiosyncrasies - I love the way the multifunction buttons on the steering can be reprogrammed via the set-up. But RF05 FBZ hasn't survived the trials of day-to-day life unscathed because, to my annoyance, I managed to reverse into a car park security post on a dark night, damaging the back bumper.

A trip to BMW franchise Whitehouse of Ruxley sorted this problem, and after a two-day stay in the Kent dealer's bodyshop, our 1-Series was back in tip-top condition. The £435 bill included repairing the rear parking sensors, which were broken in the incident. However, the damage to the PDC (Park Distance Control) system would come back to haunt us, because two weeks ago the dash lit up, warning of a central electrical failure.

Central London garage Sytner City diagnosed the fault as a corroded parking sensor control unit. Having driven around while waiting to get the bumper fixed, the missing sensor had allowed water and salt into the control unit.

Fortunately, the problem was quickly resolved under warranty, and in every other respect, the 120d has remained faultlessly reliable. One thing is for sure, though; I'll be fighting to get my hands on the BMW's keys some more in the coming months.

Second opinion

I'm always happy to run the 120d when Owen is busy testing. While I still don't like the styling, it's a pleasure to drive. The electronic seat controls and adjustable steering column make it easy to get comfortable, too. But my favourite detail is the puddle lights under the door handles - they look great against the blue metallic paint!Dawn Tennant, picture editor

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