BMW 1-Series Test Drive Expert Review – Fun with 1 !


Snapshot: BMW 1-series is one of the most fun and engaging way to enter the world of luxury

In our country, the words 'Premium' and 'Hatchback' come from two different worlds. Here the concept of 'Bigger is Better' is religiously followed and the Super-premium Hatchback segment is virtually non-existent. But once in a while comes a car which redefines the segment and this includes our latest sensation, the BMW 1.The 1-series is one of the very few options in this relatively new segment in the country, and this is not the only reason behind my shear excitement for this hatch, as its speciality and exclusivity remains with its drivetrain. Now, even if I run every bit of my mind, I still cannot think of any other hatchback in the same segment, which transmits its propelled power to the rear wheels. The thought itself sounded appealing – to have a short, compact car powered by a sprightly engine sending power only to the rear. Infact this is the second and last generation 1 series with the rear wheel drive, as the next generation 1 will be based on BMW’s new 'UKL1' Front Wheel Drive (FWD) platform.  

Over-All Design and Looks:
One can love or hate the BMW 1 Series for its looks, but either way, it stands out from the crowd and can't really be ignored. With the trademark kidney shaped front grille and dual-barrel angel-eye headlamps, the 1 poses like a typical Bimmer should. Although the hatch's profile, does have a sharp shoulder line that tries hard to give it a smooth outline, the long hood and abruptly ending hatch give it a sports car look from the 1960s. Importantly, the 1 series’ wheelbase may look short, but it is sufficient for good cabin space and to compensate for the longitudinally placed engine with its rear wheel drive layout. The hatch profile has its characteristic Hofmeister kink, while the rear with L-shaped LEDs rounds off the package. Adding more stance to it, the top-of-the line 'Sports Plus' variant comes with 17 inch alloys, while the lower variants get 16-inch.   

Interiors and Cabin Space:
Just step inside and this compact Bimmer leaves you spell-bound with no chance for complaint. On offering is the standard BMW sort of 'driver focused' cabin with subtle design and fair amount of space. The dashboard will remind you of its elder sibling, the 3-Series, which actually helps it to provide an ambience of a bigger car. Metal finish on the door handles, red accent above the glove box and the stitching on the steering wheel, add to the overall appeal of the completely black dash. As said earlier, we had the top-of-the-line 'Sport Plus' variant and thus it was packed with the best in class gadgetry, like all-leather electrically adjustable seats, great music system, steering mounted controls and a sunroof. While the seating at the rear  is a bit cramped, not affording much leg room, the seats themselves are extremely comfortable.  Also, the high transmission tunnel makes it difficult for a middle passenger to sit, and hence, the 1 series is more-or-less a four-seater. The boot itself, at 360 litres, is large enough for a hatchback. Overall, the 1 series' interiors are a perfect blend of class, style and comfort – two thumbs up to BMW over that!

Engine and Performance:
Get behind the wheels of the smallest Bimmer and you won't stop praising BMW for crafting a true driver's delight. Available with two engine options, the one we drove – 118d comes with a 2-litre four-cylinder, longitudinally placed diesel engine, that also does duty in the 3-series and the 5-series. The motor has been detuned to a max power and peak torque figure of 143 PS and 320 Nm, which doesn't seem too sensational on paper, but in the real world, feels ultra responsive. The engine is extremely linear and the power is felt throughout the rev range. Whenever you put pedal to the metal, the tachometer revs with ease right up to the red line. The eight-speed ZF automatic compliments the engine very well and even enhances the fun factor. Push your right foot hard and the car sprints from 0-100kmph in just 8.7 seconds and goes up to a top speed of  212 kmph. 
The 1also comes equipped with four driving modes – ‘EcoPro’ for better fuel efficiency, ‘Comfort’ for regular city commuting and the ‘Sports’ and ‘Sports+’ for unleashing its full potential. In the ‘Sports+’ mode, the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) is turned off partially. In this mode, for better control, the steering becomes a bit heavy but remains quick and precise. The good bit is, because the stability programme isn’t completely switched off, even if you over-do the sliding bit, you’d rarely find yourself facing the other way or worse. All in all, a car that is guaranteed to bring a grin to your face.

Over-All Driveability and Safety:
As said above, the 1’s rear seats are not the best place to be seated but … why would anybody be sitting at the back when there is such a fantastic driving package on offer? Stiff chassis, sorted damping, precised handling, Rear Wheel Drive (RWD) layout and 50:50 weight distribution, all these factors in combined make the 1-series a true driver's machine. At higher speeds, the hatch feels rock steady and rides quite comfortably even on bumpy and rough Indian roads. The suspension easily absorbs all the undulations that our country's roads throw at it, without letting out a single twitch. On the safety front, the compact Bimmer is equipped with six airbags, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), cornering brake control and BMW's very own Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) . In few words, it’s a car one can drive fast and clean and too with utmost stability and control!

The 1-series is a true drivers’ car in the fine tradition of BMW. It is powerful, quick, has amazing ride, handling and is rear-wheel drive. The market for a super premium hatchback in this country is not fully mature though other competitors are entering the fray and soon action in this segment should be hotting up. The 1-series remains our pick in this segment and it is one vehicle which you should be driving if you are the type who enjoys a jolly good run on the road. This is truly a ‘hot’ hatch!

BMW 118d :

  • Engine : 1995 cc
  • Fuel Type : Diesel
  • Power : 143PS@4000 RPM
  • Torque : 320Nm@1750-2500 RPM
  • Gearbox : 8-Speed ZF Autobox
  • Dimensions : 4324 mm x1765 mm x1421mm
  • Wheelbase : 2690mm
  • Ground clearance : 157mm
  • Kerb weight : 1320kgs.
  • 0-100 kmph : 8.7 sec.
  • Top speed : 212 kmph
  • City fuel efficiency (ARAI) : 11.6kmpl
  • Highway fuel efficiency (ARAI) : 21.2kmpl
  • Price (ex-showroom) : INR 20.90 to 29.90 Lakh


  • Engine Performance
  • Rear Wheel Drive (RWD)
  • Precised Handling
  • Driving Dynamics 


  • Price
  • Cramped Rear Seats