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.
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.
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.
In this review
- 1BMW 1 Series (2012-2019) reviewIt's not the roomiest small hatch, but fun handling and efficient running make up for it
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe full gamut of efficiency and performance is covered, from an 80mpg-plus diesel to a rapid six-cylinder turbo hot hatch
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsBMW has impressively given its diesels small car efficiency despite big engine acceleration, although the petrols can be thirsty
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe 1 Series has a high quality interior with good levels of standard equipment and some clever safety tech
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot space - currently readingNot as spacious as many rivals, the 1 Series is still a comfortable family hatchback - more or less so depending on the specification
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe 1 Series has an excellent safety rating but suffers from patchy reliability reports