December 14, 2020 at 9:57 AM


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. It replaced the 3 Series Compact as the German carmaker’s smallest and least expensive model providing a lower point of entry into the BMW range as the larger 3 Series gradually moved more up-market.

The 1 Series is the only vehicle in its class offering rear-wheel drive, advanced aluminium multilink suspension and 50:50 weight balance. It also rates extremely well for handling, fuel efficiency, style, practicality and reliability - everything you would want in a fun family car.

Launched in 2004, the first generation 1 Series was only available in the 5-door hatchback (E87) variant with the 3-door hatchback (E81), 2-door coupé (E82) and 2-door convertible (E88) not added to the range until 2007. In 2011, the second generation of the model was released with a midlife tune up in 2015 and further revisions in 2017.


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


As the successor to the 3 Series Compact, the newly created 1 Series shared most of its components with the 3 Series including axle configuration and suspension. Designed to challenge the Volkswagen Golf, Volvo C30 and Mercedes-Benz B-Class as well as the Audi A3, the 1 Series was based on an entirely new E87 automobile platform.

When it was first released, the design of the 1 Series was controversially received, especially the bonnet which was far longer than its contemporaries. However, there were no doubts about how well the car drove providing plenty of fun for everyday motoring.

First Generation 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. 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 a sport multi-function steering wheel. The top of the range Sport trim offered sport seats as well as lower, stiffened suspension for an enhanced driving experience.

In 2006, BMW replaced the Sport trim with the ever-desirable M Sport trim level, which cost over £2,700 above the entry-level ES trim from new. M Sport models included 17” alloy wheels, 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 with models featuring 'standard' suspension with the addition of sports seats, a multi-function sports steering wheel and fog lights, above the basic ES trim level.

First Generation 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.

2007 Facelift

Three years after its launch, the 1 Series received several improvements. The 5-door hatchback underwent a facelift including revised headlights, redesigned front and rear bumpers and a restyled interior. The hydraulic power steering was also replaced by electric power steering.

Under the bonnet, new engines for petrol and diesel models brought improvements in fuel economy with EfficientDynamics technology. Most notably a twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre 123d variant was introduced, while cars with a manual gearbox received a stop-start system to reduce CO2 emissions. 


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

New Models Launched

In May 2007, the 3-door hatchback 1 Series was launched which was then joined in November by the 1 Series coupé model, closely followed by the 1 Series convertible. Unlike the 3 Series convertible, this version used a soft-top instead of a folding hardtop making it lighter and preserving more space in the boot.

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 coupé 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 – BMW’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 coupé and convertible 1 Series models received their own facelift. Minor headlight and taillight revisions took place alongside new front and rear bumpers. On the inside, there were small revisions to the interior.


The second generation of BMW 1 Series 3-door and 5-door hatchback models were reintroduced as the F21 and F20 respectively after receiving a complete redesign, updated styling and a thorough engineering overhaul.

The coupé and convertible variants were not reintroduced to the 1 Series; instead they 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.

Second Generation Trim Levels

BMW 1 Series models from 2012 onwards were offered in several trim levels. The entry level ES model came with a 6.5" touchscreen with DAB Radio as standard alongside keyless start, automatic air conditioning and 16" alloy wheels. Upgrading to the SE trim level adds Bluetooth with USB audio connectivity, a multi-function steering wheel and a front armrest for added comfort.

Above the SE model are the Sport and Urban trim levels. Both of them come with Drive Performance Control with ECO PRO, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes, ambient interior lighting and 17" alloy wheels with run-flat tyres. The Sport model has sport seats and a high-gloss black interior with exterior trim enhancements, whereas the Urban model receives a high-gloss white interior with exterior trim enhancements.

The top of the range M Sport edition has M Sport suspension, an M Sport multi-function steering wheel and a short shift gear lever with M designation. It also receives an aluminium interior and exterior trim enhancements, 18” alloy wheels with run-flat tyres and dual-zone climate control.

For an additional £1,400, M Sport models could also receive the M Sport Plus package which includes headlight washers, a Harman/Kardon sound system, M Sport braking system, sun protection glass, windscreen with grey shade band and xenon headlights.

Second Generation Engines

Several new models were 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.

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, now offering 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. Similarly, the 118i replaced the 114i as the entry-level petrol engine for 1 Series models in the UK, producing 134bhp.

This 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.)

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 'Shadow Edition' trims: the Edition Sport Line Shadow, Edition M Sport Shadow and BMW M140i Edition Shadow.


In a design that is expected to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, the third generation 1 Series will share the same front-wheel-drive chassis as the Mini Countryman.

It is expected that the new 1 Series will depart from the traditional longitudinal engine mounting for a space-saving transversely mounted engine for a front-wheel drive model.

We've got a great range of quality used BMW 1 Series cars available for you to search today.