BMW 1 Series (2012-2019) review - Practicality, comfort and boot space

Not as spacious as many rivals, the 1 Series is still a comfortable family hatchback - more or less so depending on the specification

The original 1 Series was heavily criticised for its lack of practicality and for prioritising style over substance. The latest model, however, boasts increased dimensions - resulting in improved room in the rear of the cabin, better boot space and some useful storage throughout. 

A detail worth mentioning is that many versions of the 1 Series feature a dark headlining, which is a blessing and a curse – it makes the interior feel sportier, but also a little more claustrophobic.

It's not be as spacious inside as a Volkswagen Golf or SEAT Leon, but storage places in the cabin include a big compartment beneath the central armrest, deep door bins and a large glove box.

Size

A little longer than the five-door Audi A3 Sportback, though not quite as wide or tall, the BMW 1 Series nonetheless fits the convention for a family hatchback; on the road the 1 Series feels roughly the same size as any rival you care to name – Vauxhall Astra, Ford Focus, Lexus CT. That makes it easy to place, and despite a low-set seating position, all-round visibility is good.

Leg room, head room & passenger space

The main casualty of the 1 Series’ rear-wheel-drive setup is rear passenger space, and especially the middle seat. The 1 Series has a trio of three-point seatbelts in the rear, but there’s scant legroom in the middle where the transmission tunnel runs.

Headroom is fine for adults front and back, as is rear knee room, with the 1 Series featuring quite thin front seatbacks. There are Isofix points for child seats on the two outer rear seats, and there’s enough space for a rear-facing child seat fitment without having to push the front chairs too far forward.

Boot

With the back seats in place, boot space has increased by 30-litres on the old version to 360 litres, rising to 1,200 with the rear bench down – both figures are 20-litres down on the Audi A3 Sportback, for example. Frustratingly, BMW consigns a 40:20:40 split-folding rear bench – a very useful feature – to the cost options list for all specifications.

The 1 Series does suffer from a relatively small boot opening, and the floor can’t be lifted flush with the loading lip, which can make unloading awkward. An optional Extended Storage pack adds nets to the boot, usefully keeping smaller items from rolling around.  

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    118i SE 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £23,885

Most Economical

  • Name
    116d SE 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £24,995

Fastest

  • Name
    M135i xDrive 5dr Step Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £35,695

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