In-depth reviews

BMW 1 Series review - Practicality, comfort and boot space

The BMW 1 Series’ switch to front-wheel drive has improved cabin and boot space, but neither is class-leading

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Practicality, comfort and boot space Rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£28,720 to £45,070
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As with the bulk of its rivals, the BMW 1 Series is only available as a five-door hatchback. It’s now more traditional in its layout than ever, with a more cab-forward design that prioritises cabin space.

Up front, this lends itself to an excellent driving position that’s in-keeping with the car’s sporty character – it’s easy to achieve a low, comfortable position without compromising visibility or support in your legs and arms. Rearward visibility is not as good as in some rivals, but it’s still better than the restricted view in the Mazda 3.

Elsewhere, cabin storage is ample, with good-sized cupholders and door bins offering enough space for odds and ends. A lidded compartment is found under the centre armrest, while a wireless phone charger can be added to the centre console just ahead of the gear lever.

In typical BMW fashion, all major controls are intuitively located so that driving the 1 Series for the first time is a more accessible experience than in the idiosyncratic A-Class.

Size

The BMW 1 Series is wider than before but is still on a par with its rivals in terms of overall size. It’s around 4.3 metres long, 1.4 metres tall and 1.7 metres wide. The Mercedes A-Class is marginally longer but similarly wide and tall.

Leg room, head room & passenger space

There’s more space for passengers in the latest 1 Series than in the old car. Front seat occupants have plenty of space but there’s still a cocooning, sporty feel that’s enhanced by a relatively high, dark-coloured dash.

It’s easier to access the rear seats than before thanks to a wider door opening; once inside, there are a few extra centimetres of knee room and headroom. However, back seat passengers will still feel more hemmed-in than in the Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class; taller adults in particular may struggle to get comfortable. Isofix points are standard on the outer rear seats.

Boot

The 1 Series offers 380 litres of space in the boot, which is 20 litres up on the previous 1 Series, and the opening is now wider and lower too. For context, the 1 Series pips the Mercedes A-Class (370 litres) for cargo space and matches the Volkswagen Golf

The 40:20:40-split rear seats fold flat, and with them all lowered, the luggage capacity increases to 1,200 litres. There’s also an adjustable boot floor, which has two levels, meaning you can either have a very small lip to load items over, or a larger and more awkward one, but in exchange for more boot space.

Which Is Best

Cheapest

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

Most Economical

  • Name
    116d SE 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £25,405

Fastest

  • Name
    M135i xDrive 5dr Step Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £40,295
News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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