November 2011

picture of car from the front picture of car from the rear picture of car interior picture of car detail

Overall rating

3.5 out of 5 stars


  • Mature evolution of once radical styling
  • Balanced performance across the range
  • Rear occupant space now improved
  • Economy and emissions figures to rival much larger cars


  • Rear view could be better
  • Large wheels and sports suspension combination can struggle on urban roads
  • Loses its sparkle when in eco driving mode
  • Exterior design will still split opinion
A controversial car when it was first launched, its looks didn't appeal to everyone. Crucially, though, the 1 Series was BMW's first foray in recent years into the compact car market. At this semi-premium level BMW was keen to complete against Audi and Mercedes. This second generation car aims to attract a broader customer base with its toned down looks and greater focus on economy and emissions performance.

This second generation 1 Series has grown slightly over its predecessor but BMW's use of lightweight construction materials has ensured that it's lost, not gained, weight. This helps to further the car's eco-themed cause, as does its enhanced range of petrol and diesel engines.

In recent years BMW has become well known for its frugal and clean engines -petrol and diesel. 1 Series buyers can choose from an expanding range of units, and their low CO2 performance should make them especially attractive to company car drivers. Furthering the car's green credentials is a switchable driving mode offering an eco mode to conserve energy along with regular modes and an engine stop-start function.

As a five-door hatch this second-gen 1 Series offers buyers a credible alternative to a family hatch if you want o move up the premium ladder. You'll pay more for the experience but for others, notably downsizers, the car's cabin ambience and overall look and feel is similar to a larger and more expensive BMW. As such, the move shouldn't be viewed as a compromise.

The car's slight increase in size solves one of the age old 1 Series issues - a lack of space. This time around the car is more accommodating, and there's now a genuine prospect of rear seat occupants feeling comfortable on longer journeys. Boot space is also reasonable, although it's good to see that the car still boasts a relatively compact footprint - it's important that it remains city friendly for the many urban motorists the previous model was popular with.

Our verdict on the BMW 1 Series 116i Sport
As a mature evolution of the 1 Series concept, this second-gen car boast s a number of significant and welcome improvements. A little bigger to better accommodate its occupants, it's also more economical and boasts lower emissions across the range. Looks-wise it's now easier on the eye, and the design shares details with BMWs further up the range.