Why buy a used BMW 1-Series?

Introduced more than a decade ago as BMW’s rival to the market dominating Audi A3, the BMW 1-Series is one of the most attractive compact cars on the market today. At its launch back in 2004, the rear-wheel drive 1-Series replaced the market-leading 3-Series Compact as the German carmaker’s smallest and least expensive model. Not only is the BMW 1-Series the only vehicle in its class offering rear-wheel drive, it rates extremely across the board for everything you’d expect in a fun family car from one of the world’s leading carmakers: exceptional handling, fuel efficiency, style, practicality and reliability.

The first generation of BMW 1-Series, launched in 2004, was available in two variants: E81 (3-door hatchback), E87 (5-door hatchback). With the E82 (2-door coupe), E88 (2-door convertible) added to the range in 2007. In 2012, the second generation of the BMW 1-Series was launched.


First generation BMW 1-Series 5-door hatchback (E87)

BMW 1 Series First Generation (2004-2012)

BMW 1-Series trim levels

First generation 1-Series models were initially available in three trim levels: ES, SE and Sport. The most basic ES trimmed models included 16”alloy wheels and manual air conditioning as standard, whilst upgrading to SE made for a more comfortable drive, adding automatic dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, front fog lights, heated wing mirrors and washer jets, plus sport multi-function steering wheel. The Sport trim offered sport seats as well as lower, stiffened suspension.

In 2006, BMW replaced the Sport trim with the ever-desirable M Sport trim level, which cost over £2700 above the entry-level ES trim when new. The M Sport trim level included 17” alloys, interior and exterior trim additions, M aerodynamic bodystyling, M Sport multi-function leather steering wheel, stiffer M Sport suspension, as well as sports seats. The Sport trim level was then reintroduced to the 1-Series in 2008. 1-Series Sport models from 2008 onwards feature 'standard' suspension with the addition of sports seats, multi-function sports steering wheel and fog lights, above the basic ES trim level.

BMW 1-Series engines

From the start, the 1-Series model range was offered with a range of economical petrol and diesel engines: there were 1.6-litre 116i and 2.0-litre 118i and 120i petrol models, and 118d and 120d versions of a 2.0-litre diesel engine. For those after a truly hot hatchback, the unassuming BMW 130i was offered a year later, in both 3-door and 5-door variants and came packed with a potent 3.0 litre naturally-aspirated engine, producing 265bhp behind its trademark BMW kidney grilles.

BMW 1-Series 2007 facelift

Three years after launch, the 1-Series received several improvements. The 5-door hatchback underwent a facelift which included new engines for petrol and diesel models, bringing improvements in fuel economy. Plus, the hydraulic power steering was replaced by electric power steering as well as changes to bumpers and interior trim.


First generation BMW 1-Series 5-door hatchback LCI (E87)

BMW 1-Series new models launched

In May 2007, the 3-door hatchback 1-Series was launched and then in November, the 1-Series coupe models went on sale, closely followed by the 1-Series convertible. The new body styles saw the top-of-the-range 130i hatchback trumped in terms of performance (excluding the limited production 1M Coupe) by the new BMW 135i (available as a coupe or convertible) – producing 302bhp from a new twin-turbo 3.0 litre power unit.


First generation BMW 1-Series 2-door coupe (E82)

January 2009 saw the introduction of the 116d – the marque’s most fuel efficient and least polluting model yet. The 116d, producing 116bhp from it’s four-cylinder 2.0 litre diesel engine, offered a combined consumption of 64.2mpg and a CO2 emissions figure of 118g/km.

In 2011, the coupe and convertible 1-Series ranges received their own facelift. They too received updated engines as well as changes to the headlights, taillights, interior, plus new bumpers.

BMW 1 Series Second Generation (2012-)

The second generation of BMW 1-Series 3-door and 5-door hatchback models were reintroduced as the F21 and F20 respectively in 2012 after receiving a complete redesign, updated styling and a thorough engineering overhaul. Whilst the coupe and convertibles variants instead formed BMW’s brand new 2-Series model range.


Second generation BMW 1-Series 5-door hatchback (F20)

Still the only rear-wheel drive car in its class, the BMW 1-Series continues to hold its own against premium hatchbacks from other German manufacturers such as the Mercedes A-Class and Audi A3, plus the Volkswagen Golf, Lexus CT and Volvo V40. Offering enhanced comfort (including climate control as standard) and improved efficiency, the new 1-Series was 85mm longer than its predecessor, whilst saving 30kg of weight.

The second generation of 1-Series saw several new models added to the “baby BMW” range: including the 114i, 114d, 116d, 118d, 120d, 125i, 125d and M135i. For the first time, permanent all-wheel drive was available in the form of the new 120d xDrive.

A six-speed manual gearbox is standard for most second-generation 1-Series models, except the 125d which features an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters and launch control. The ZF automatic gearbox was offered as an option in the 116i, 118i 125i, M135i, 120d and BMW 120d xDrive models.

The second generation of BMW 1-Series saw the impressively high-performance 130i hatchback superseded by the more powerful M135i, which then became the M140i in 2016 when BMW added more power, stiffer suspension and improved efficiency to the range-topping hot hatch – now equipped with a 335bhp twin-turbo 3.0 litre engine. The M140i will take you from 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds - or 4.9 seconds if you choose the 8-speed automatic transmission. So impressive in fact, the BMW 1 Series M140i 3dr Auto was recognised as the Best Hot Hatch over £25,000 in the What Car? Car of the Year Awards 2017.

BMW 1-Series trim levels (2012 onwards)

BMW 1-Series models from 2012 onwards were offered in several trim levels:

  • ES: 16” alloys, automatic air conditioning, keyless start, DAB radio, a 6.5-inch infotainment screen with iDrive, Drive Performance Control with ECO PRO, Comfort and Sport modes
  • SE: (in addition to ES models) front armrest, Bluetooth with USB audio connectivity, front fog lights, heated wing mirrors and washer jets, multi-function steering wheel with speed limiting feature, rain sensor with automatic headlights
  • Sport: (in addition to SE models) 17” alloys with run-flat tyres, ambient interior lighting, Drive Performance Control with ECO PRO, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes, high-gloss black interior and exterior trim enhancements, Sport instrument cluster, Sport multi-function steering wheel with speed limiting feature, Sport seats
  •  Urban: (in addition to SE models) 17” alloys with run-flat tyres, ambient interior lighting, Drive Performance Control with ECO PRO, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes, high-gloss white interior and exterior trim enhancements, half leather ‘Metro’ interior, Sport multi-function steering wheel with speed limiting feature
  • M Sport (in addition to SE models): 18” alloys with run-flat tyres, automatic air conditioning with dual-zone climate control, ambient interior lighting, ambient interior lighting, aluminium interior and exterior trim enhancements, M Sport multi-function steering wheel with speed limiting feature, M Sport suspension, Sport seats, short-shift gear lever with M designation

For an additional £1,400, M Sport models could also receive the M Sport Plus package. The 1-Series M Sport Plus package including headlight washers, harman/kardon sound system, M Sport braking system, sun protection glass, windscreen with grey shade band, plus xenon headlights.

BMW 1-Series 2015 facelift

In 2015, the 1-Series once again received a facelift including revised bumpers giving the car a lower and wider appearance. BMW used the larger air intakes on the latest engines as an opportunity to alter the shape of the headlights, making them more angular than before. All models received the addition of LED daytime running lights and slimmer LED tail-lights as standard, whilst LED directional headlights – known as Adaptive Headlights were added to the list of options (standard on M Sport models). The ES and Urban trim levels were dropped for the 2015 facelift, to simplify the range, which now offers more kit as standard.

The 114i, 114d and 116i models were discontinued – in the UK at least, whilst the rest of the model range received revised engines, bringing improved efficiency and power.

The range updates meant the entry-level diesel model became the 116d with its three-cylinder 1.5-litre unit producing 114bhp. Whilst the 118i replaced the 114i as the entry-level petrol engine for 1-Series models in the UK, producing 134bhp.

The 2015 facelift also saw the introduction of the most efficient 1-Series range to date: the 116d EfficientDynamics Plus. Powered by the same 114bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder diesel as the 116d, but with a range of aero and efficiency tweaks. The BMW 116d EfficientDynamics Plus will give you a generous 83.1mpg, emitting just 89g/km of CO2 (the standard 116d returns 78.5mpg and 94g/km of CO2, reaching 0-62mph in 10.3 seconds.)

BMW 1-Series 2017 facelift

In July 2017, the 1-Series received a minor facelift. The upgrades included minor interior and exterior styling tweaks for higher trim levels, plus infotainment and technology upgrades and new special-edition 'Shadow Edition' trims: the Edition Sport Line Shadow, Edition M Sport Shadow and BMW M140i Edition Shadow.

Take your first step into BMW ownership today with Motor City Plymouth’s range of quality used BMW 1-Series – from only £8,599.

May 25, 2018 at 2:08 PM

Category: Buying Advice

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