The BMW 1-Series occupies a strange space in the market. It’s at the very top end of the compact luxury segment, which is a relatively narrow market in itself, and means that it’s priced alongside some mid-sized luxury cars that really give it a run for its money. Probably not a car many people are likely to buy new given the stiff competition from marques like Audi in particular but used, things are quite different.
An Excellent All-Rounder
In particular, the 120d is truly excellent value for money. For around half the price of a new, entry level hatchback, you can buy a well-kept example from around 2004-2006, and there should be a few available on sites like AA Cars or somewhere similar. You’ll get all of the comforts and conveniences that you’d expect from BMW, just in a smaller package. Leather seats are easy to come by, as are parking sensors, heated seats, and the list goes on. Plus, on top of all this, Euro NCAP love its safety.
Under the bonnet, things are even better. The two litre diesel engine will return a combined fuel economy rating of around 45mpg, making this a great choice for the cost-conscious. What’s more is that you’ll get 160bhp on tap too, making this somewhat of a warm hatch as opposed to a hot one. The overall package is brilliant, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a better alternative; the Golf isn’t as well appointed, and the Audi A3 is neither as quick nor as economical.
A 116i is probably the cheapest route to ownership of a reasonably modern BMW. It’s not the most efficient or powerful engine, but in SE trim you’ll still get the things you’d expect. If you care about the blue propeller badge on the front of your car, then this is a great way of becoming a Beemer owner.
Those in the know will also have one eye on the more performance-oriented models. If you can’t afford a 330i, then the 130i may well be for you. It’s equipped with a 3.0-litre straight six engine, putting out 265bhp. You can get one for around £5,000, which makes it a really good alternative to something like the S3, which is far more popular, as it’s better known. The only cues as to the 130i’s performance potential are the twin exhausts; this is a bit of a sleeper. The 135i is the pick of the range, but it’s also expensive.
To conclude, the 1 series is a great way to get into the BMW market, as long as you get the right model. Search around and look closely to make sure you grab yourself the perfect first Beemer.