Best Compact Family Car: BMW 1 Series

It was always going to take something special to beat the Volkswagen Golf, and the new BMW 1 Series is exactly that.

Why it won...

It was always going to take something special to beat the Volkswagen Golf, and the new BMW 1 Series is exactly that. When the all-new model arrived last year, our expectations were sky-high – but it didn’t let us down.

BMW’s proven EfficientDynamics hardware promises fuel-sipping thirst across the range and with CO2 emissions starting as low as 99g/km, the 1 Series is a prestige model that won’t break the bank. Best of all, it retains the fun rear-wheel-drive handling that we’ve come to expect from all BMWs, so you don’t feel like you’re making dynamic compromises at every turn.

The standalone ED model grabs all the headlines, and is sure to be a hit with company car drivers everywhere, as its sub-100g/km emissions are accompanied by attractive specification that includes a 6.5-inch infotainment screen, Bluetooth connectivity and a USB port. It’s also hard to pick holes in a family car that can sprint from 0-60mph in 10.5 seconds, yet has lower CO2 emissions than most city cars.

Generous kit and tax-efficient engines are all very well, but the 1 Series also puts the boot into its rivals where it matters most – at the kerbside – because the latest model is better looking than before, and bigger than ever, so family buyers needn’t be put off.

The rest of the range is just as appealing as the ED model, and the potent 125d is a stellar hot hatch thanks to its 215bhp diesel and tuned suspension. The ED is our pick, though, and generous SE trim shows it in its best light.

Our choice: 116d ED

What a combination! A desirable premium badge, comprehensive standard kit list and CO2 emissions of only 99g/km make the cleanest 1 Series in the range the best. It drives well, too.

Commended

Kia Cee’d

The days when Kia only won plaudits for its value for money or aftersales packages are long gone. Its latest models stand comparison before you even look at their price tags, and the new Cee’d is a prime example. It’s stylish, spacious, good to drive and has a high-quality interior. And, of course, there’s the seven-year warranty.

Volkswagen Golf

The Golf has been our favourite compact family hatch for the last three years and it still ranks as one of the best cars around. Match trim gets you all of the most important kit as standard, while the 1.6 TDI BlueMotion Technology engine mixes fuel-sipping thirst with decent performance.

Recommended

BMW 1 Series review
BMW 118i - front tracking
BMW 1 Series

BMW 1 Series review

The BMW 1 Series is one of the best premium hatchbacks on sale, offering a combination of performance, efficiency and driver thrills
15 Apr 2021
Used BMW 1 Series
Used BMW 1 Series - front
BMW 1 Series Hatchback

Used BMW 1 Series

Our BMW 1 Series buyer’s guide has everything you need to know about the 1 Series Mk1 (2004-2011) and 1 Series Mk2 (2011-2019)
15 Dec 2020

Most Popular

Next-generation Range Rover Sport to get racy new look
Range Rover Sport render
News

Next-generation Range Rover Sport to get racy new look

Our exclusive images preview what the upcoming Range Rover Sport could look like
12 May 2021
New Cupra Leon 2021 review
Cupra Leon - front
SEAT Leon Cupra

New Cupra Leon 2021 review

The new Cupra Leon shares much with the VW Golf GTI Clubsport, but is more focused and cheaper
13 May 2021
Sporty new Range Rover Evoque P300 HST launched
Range Rover Evoque HST
Land Rover Range Rover Evoque SUV

Sporty new Range Rover Evoque P300 HST launched

New Range Rover Evoque P300 HST comes with 296bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol power
12 May 2021