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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

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 comfort 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.

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Elsewhere, cabin storage is ample, with good-sized cupholders and doorbins 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

There’s 380 litres of space in the boot, which benefits from wider, lower opening than that of the previous BMW 1 Series. This 20-litre increase means the 1 Series just pips the Mercedes A Class (370 litres) and matches the Volkswagen Golf. Split-folding 40:20:40 rear seats are offered to expand the boot’s capacity, along with a number of optional luggage retention hooks and nets.

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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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