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BMW 1 Series 2017 review

EXPERT RATING
7.9
Most changes for the new 1 Series are on the price and spec list, with BMW sharpening its pencil on the top model, and raising numbers at the lower end, to support enhanced standard equipment levels.

The new iPhone 8 boasts a host of features device nerds are falling over themselves to acquire, yet it kinda sorta looks the same as the iPhone 7. All the wireless charging, bionic chippery, and retina screenage isn't exactly visible to the naked eye (pun intended).

Which is broadly analogous to BMW's new and improved 1 Series. It's been upgraded. It even has a better screen, but you'd be hard pressed to tell from the outside. Sadly for BMW, people won't line up around the block to buy a new 1.

This is the second product cycle upgrade for the current 1 Series, following the release of new, more efficient engines in 2016.

Most of the changes are on the price and specification list, with BMW sharpening its pencil on the top model, and fattening up the numbers at the lower end of the range.

But that's largely because standard equipment packages have been enhanced, and the tricky iDrive6 multimedia system is now standard across the 1 Series line-up. Other, more technical enhancements, are also mostly hidden on the inside.

BMW 1 Series 2017: 125i Sportline
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency5.9L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$31,990

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

For new-model car-spotters, the biggest external clue to the upgraded 1 Series is LED headlights, now standard across the range, with adaptive LEDs fitted to the top-shelf M140i.

The mid-range 120i Urban Line model picks up new design 17-inch alloy wheels, while M Sport variants have two new 18-inch wheel options available.

  • It’s been upgraded. It even has a better screen, but you’d be hard pressed to tell from the outside. (125i variant pictured) It’s been upgraded. It even has a better screen, but you’d be hard pressed to tell from the outside. (125i variant pictured)
  • There can be only 1: BMW's 1 Series. (125i variant pictured) There can be only 1: BMW's 1 Series. (125i variant pictured)
  • BMW Australia expects the 125i to be the 1 Series top-seller. (125i variant pictured) BMW Australia expects the 125i to be the 1 Series top-seller. (125i variant pictured)

On the inside, there's the addition of a 'Black Panel' digital instrument cluster, which remains matt with the ignition off, and lights up with sharp graphics, configurable across conventional speed and revs readouts, as well as gear position, engine-efficiency data, vehicle settings and nav guidance.

There are also high-gloss finishes across the centre stack and front console, and even greater attention to detail around panel joins, trim stitching and switchgear.

But the hero is the iDrive6 system, providing access to live content, radio and audio, navigation and maps, phone functionality, and vehicle settings through a simple and customisable app-style interface. Yes, everything has to look and feel like an iPhone these days.

  • For new-model car-spotters, the biggest external clue to the upgraded 1 Series is LED headlights. (M140i variant pictured) For new-model car-spotters, the biggest external clue to the upgraded 1 Series is LED headlights. (M140i variant pictured)
  • M Sport variants have two new 18-inch wheel options available. (M140i variant pictured) M Sport variants have two new 18-inch wheel options available. (M140i variant pictured)
  • The M140i, while exciting to drive, is never manic. (M140i variant pictured) The M140i, while exciting to drive, is never manic. (M140i variant pictured)

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

At just over 4.3 metres long, close to 1.8 metres wide, and 1.4 metres high, the five-door 1 Series sits in the same dimensional ballpark as its primo German arch-rivals, the Audi A3 Sportback and Merc A-Class.

Like the other members of this branch of the G3, it provides front-seat occupants with plenty of room and multiple storage options, including two cupholders in the console with an oddments tray behind, a 12-volt outlet, a lidded storage box between the seats with USB connection, a reasonably sized glove box, and segmented bins in the doors big enough for large water bottles.

On the inside, there’s the addition of a ‘Black Panel’ digital instrument cluster. (M140i variant pictured) On the inside, there’s the addition of a ‘Black Panel’ digital instrument cluster. (M140i variant pictured)

It's swings and roundabouts in the rear, with more than passable headroom, but marginal legroom for this 183cm tester (sitting behind his own driving position). Cupholders for back-seaters (as per the 125i and M140i driven) are MIA, storage in the rear doors is tight, but on the plus side, adjustable ventilation for rear passengers is present and accounted for.

Luggage volume is a relatively modest 360 litres (VDA) with the 60/40 split-folding rear seat upright, growing to a healthy 1200 litres with the backrest folded forward. Tie-down points, shopping-bag hooks, a decent light, and small storage trays further up the practicality factor.

  • Luggage volume is a relatively modest 360 litres (VDA) with the 60/40 split-folding rear seat upright. (125i variant pictured) Luggage volume is a relatively modest 360 litres (VDA) with the 60/40 split-folding rear seat upright. (125i variant pictured)
  • Tie-down points, shopping-bag hooks, a decent light, and small storage trays further up the practicality factor. (M140i variant pictured) Tie-down points, shopping-bag hooks, a decent light, and small storage trays further up the practicality factor. (M140i variant pictured)

Standard rubber is run-flats on all but the performance-focused M140i, so no spare (or repair kit) under the floor for three- and four-cylinder models. But the M140i packs a 'BMW Mobility Kit' (compressor and tyre sealant to cover minor damage) in line with its high-performance (non-run-flat) rubber.

If you're keen on towing, the 118i can pull 650kg of unbraked trailer, and 1300kg braked, with the maximum figure stepping up to 1500kg for the 118d, 120i, and 125i. The M140i is a no-tow zone.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

The 1 Series family tree is unchanged, with petrol and diesel four-cylinder models offered in Sport Line, Urban Line, and M Sport variants.

Depending on the model, prices have jumped between $90 and $3090, largely because standard equipment packages have been enhanced, and the tricky iDrive6 multimedia system is now standard across the 1 Series (and 2 Series) line-up.

But headline news is that cost-of-entry for the turbo six-cylinder M140i performance hero has been reduced by close to five grand, to just slide under the $60k barrier.

Entry-level twins, the 1.5-litre, three-cylinder, turbo-petrol 118i ($39,990), and 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel 118d ($43,990) are offered as standard with a 'Sport Line' package, including 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, the iDrive6 multimedia system, digital radio, sat nav with live traffic, climate control air, a reversing camera, a sports steering wheel, (cloth) front sports seats and rain-sensing wipers.

The mid-range 120i Urban Line model picks up new design 17-inch alloy wheels. (125i variant pictured) The mid-range 120i Urban Line model picks up new design 17-inch alloy wheels. (125i variant pictured)

Stepping up to the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol 120i ($45,990) adds an 'Urban Line' package; 17-inch rims, LED fog lights, front and rear parking sensors, 'Dakota' leather upholstery, interior ambient lighting and an anti-dazzle rear-view mirror.

Meanwhile, the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol 125i ($49,990) picks up the 'M Sport' package with suspension tuning, 18-inch alloys, anti-dazzle side mirrors, bigger brakes, high-gloss 'Shadow Line' exterior trim, an 8.8-inch touchscreen multimedia system, cloth/Alcantara upholstery, 'M' leather steering wheel and an anthracite roofliner.

The M140i ($59,990) is powered by a cracking 3.0-litre turbo-petrol six-cylinder engine delivering sub-5.0sec 0-100km/h acceleration, and in terms of equipment, adds 'Jet Black'-painted 18-inch wheels, adaptive 'M' suspension, adaptive LED headlights, high-beam assist, keyless entry and start, Dakota leather, electric front seats with memory function, and Harman Kardon audio.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The 118i's 1.5-litre turbo-petrol triple produces a respectable 100kW at 4400rpm, with maximum torque of 220Nm spread across a broad plateau from just 1250-4300rpm.

Meanwhile, the 118d's 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four tops that with 110kW at 4000rpm, and a solid 320Nm from 1500-3000rpm.

The Big Kahuna M140i is powered by a 3.0-litre, six-cylinder, turbo-petrol. (M140i variant pictured) The Big Kahuna M140i is powered by a 3.0-litre, six-cylinder, turbo-petrol. (M140i variant pictured)

Slide behind the wheel of the 120i and you'll have a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four at your disposal, developing 135kW at 5000rpm, and 270Nm between 1350-4600rpm.

The 125i uses a retuned version of the same engine (lower compression ratio, more turbo boost) to pump out a solid 165kW between 5200-6500rpm, and a meaty 310Nm from just 1400-5000rpm.

The 125i pumps out a solid 165kW between 5200-6500rpm, and a meaty 310Nm from just 1400-5000rpm. (125i variant pictured) The 125i pumps out a solid 165kW between 5200-6500rpm, and a meaty 310Nm from just 1400-5000rpm. (125i variant pictured)

Then the Big Kahuna M140i is powered by a 3.0-litre, six-cylinder, turbo-petrol, pushing out no less than 250kW at 5500rpm, and a thumping 500Nm between 1520-4500rpm.

The same (8HP50) eight-speed auto transmission (with ratios and final drive tweaked for the 118i) is used across the board, pushing drive to the rear wheels only. A six-speed manual gearbox is a no-cost option on the M140i. Save the manuals!

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

As you'd imagine, fuel economy and CO2 emissions vary across the line-up, with the powerful and torquey 118d offering a standout combination of performance and efficiency.

BMW claims a figure of 4.8L/100km for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) fuel economy cycle for the 118i, emitting 112g/km of CO2 in the process.

Then the gruntier and faster 118d puts its petrol-powered sibling to shame with claimed figures of just 3.8L/100km and 99g/km.

The 120i weighs in with 5.8L/100km and 133g/km, closely followed by the 125i at 5.9L/100km and 134g/km, while the price of power for the M140i is 7.1L/100km and 163g/km.

Fuel-tank capacity is 52 litres, and although the petrol engines can run on anything from 91-98RON unleaded, BMW recommends 95RON premium as a minimum.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

On the Australian launch drive program we had the opportunity to sample the 125i, which BMW Australia expects to be the 1 Series top-seller, and the even more performance-focused M140i.

The 125i punches well above its weight in terms of acceleration and dynamics, thanks largely to its lively turbo four and M Sport-tuned, strut front, five-link rear suspension set-up.

BMW claims the 125i will sprint from 0-100km/h in 6.1sec, and with maximum torque available from just 1400rpm, all the way to 5000rpm, the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo feels strong in the mid-range.

But power delivery isn't as linear as it could be, with some hesitation before firm right foot pressure translates into forward momentum. On the plus side, the eight-speed auto is smooth as a good single malt, with sharp shifts via wheel-mounted paddles in manual mode.

The 125i punches well above its weight in terms of acceleration and dynamics. (125i variant pictured) The 125i punches well above its weight in terms of acceleration and dynamics. (125i variant pictured)

In fact, the mid-range 1 Series has the aura of the 3 Series of old. Steering feel and response is good, the suspension manages to iron out most bumps and dips, and despite 18-inch rims and notoriously unforgiving run-flat rubber, overall ride comfort is impressive.

Add the edge the M package brings, including details like the grippy leather sports wheel, the bigger brakes, and racy cloth/Alcantara trim, and you have a genuinely quick hatch with an agreeably low-key profile.

Then there's the M140i. A 0-100km/h time under five seconds (4.6sec to be exact) is properly quick, and this carefully crafted performance hatch, while exciting to drive, is never manic.

Tipping the scales at just under 1.5 tonnes, it brings serious power and torque to the party, with every one of its 500Nm (that's a lot) on tap from only 1520rpm, and hanging around until 4500rpm.

Response from the 3.0-litre turbo-six is crisp, yet flexible, and despite its big outputs, the 1 Series flagship is an involving and satisfying drive.

Tipping the scales at just under 1.5 tonnes, the M140i brings serious power and torque to the party. (M140i variant pictured) Tipping the scales at just under 1.5 tonnes, the M140i brings serious power and torque to the party. (M140i variant pictured)

It's hard to fault the dynamic package, with the standard 'Adaptive M Suspension' offering settings from 'Comfort' through to 'Sport+', but even in the most forgiving mode the car remains taut and communicative.

The 18-inch rims, shod with Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber (225/40 front / 245/35 rear) don't upset the ride as much as you'd expect, although coarse-chip surfaces send rumble through to the cabin.

On a more day-to-day level, the characteristic BMW dash and console layout works beautifully from an ergonomic point of view, although the two-stage (depress small button on stubby lever, then shift) process to select drive or reverse can be a frustratingly hit-and-miss affair if you need to get going quickly.

The iDrive6 system is simple and intuitive to use, and the Harman Kardon sound system (to this non-audiophile's ear) sounds superb.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   9/10

Driver-assistance tech including AEB, forward-collision warning, pedestrian detection and lane-departure warning is standard across the range.

There are also 'Approach Control Warning', 'Attentiveness Assistant', and 'Pedestrian warning' systems, plus 'Dynamic braking lights, DSC, ABS, 'Braking Assistant', 'Cornering Brake Control' (CBC), 'Dynamic Traction Control' (DTC), cruise control with braking function, a reversing camera, 'Park Distance Control' (PDC) rear (front and rear on 120i and up), and run-flat safety tyres (including a run-flat indicator).

There are three child restraint top tethers across the back seat, with ISOFIX anchor points in the outer two positions.

On the passive safety side, all 1 Series models feature airbags for the front, side and head, as well as 'Intelligent Emergency Call' assistance.

The BMW 1 Series scored a maximum five ANCAP stars when it was tested at launch in late 2011.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

BMW uses 'condition based' servicing, with the car effectively telling you when it's time to visit the workshop, but the 'BMW Service Inclusive' program offers distance and time options to fix maintenance costs (on a 'Basic' or 'Plus' plan) for up to 10 years/200,00km.

For example, a five-year/80,000km service package for the 1 Series costs $1340 for the Basic option (oil service/top-up, annual vehicle check, microfilter, air filter, fuel filter, brake fluid, spark plugs), and $3550 for the Plus pack (adds brake pads and discs, wipers rubbers, and clutch disc and plate).

The standard BMW warranty covers three years/unlimited km.

Verdict

With more spec, and some useful extra tech, the BMW 1 Series is a key player at the entry point of the European luxury market. Increased prices, with one M140i-shaped exception, may have you looking hard at key rivals, but this round of upgrades has kept the compact Beamer very much in the hunt.

Do these equipment and tech upgrades keep BMW's 1-Series in the game? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$37,800
Based on 31 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$29,990
Highest Price
$56,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
M140i 3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $43,990 – 56,990 2017 BMW 1 SERIES 2017 M140i Pricing and Specs
118i M-SPORT 1.5L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $28,600 – 34,430 2017 BMW 1 SERIES 2017 118i M-SPORT Pricing and Specs
118d SPORT LINE 2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $32,560 – 38,720 2017 BMW 1 SERIES 2017 118d SPORT LINE Pricing and Specs
120i Sportline 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $29,920 – 36,080 2017 BMW 1 SERIES 2017 120i Sportline Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.9
Design7
Practicality7
Price and features8
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption8
Driving8
Safety9
Ownership8
James Cleary
Deputy Editor

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