2020 BMW 1-Series Review Concludes With A Very Bold Claim

In the past, non-SUV BMWs used to be synonymous with rear-wheel drive, yet some of the latest models have long ditched their tail-happy abilities by moving to a new, FWD-biased platform.

One of them is the latest 1-Series, a compact hatchback that goes against the likes of the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class, which have a similar layout.

Compared to its predecessor, it has the same length, but it’s wider, taller and has a longer wheelbase. The new architecture has opened up more space in the boot which, at 380 liters (13.4 cu-ft), is comparable to the Volkswagen Golf. The back seat is very roomy and the car still offers that good build quality, retaining the premium feel and being more modern with the new digital instrument cluster and personal assistant.

Also Watch: 2020 BMW M135i Measured Against Old M140i In Series Of Tests

Now, despite looking like a warm/hot hatch, this one is actually a humble 118i. This means that it’s powered by a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder petrol engine that produces 138 horsepower (140 PS / 103 kW) and 162 pound-feet (220 Nm) of torque. The mill is paired to a six-speed manual transmission (an auto is optional) and the whole setup actually makes it feel smooth, responsive, refined, quiet and surprisingly agile.

The ride quality is quite good, even on the 19-inch alloys of this M Sport variant, and can get even better by getting smaller rims and adaptive suspension. Despite the switch to FWD, BMW ensured that the driving dynamics have been polished, so the new-gen 1-Series offers sharp steering and plenty of grip in an attempt to counterweight the loss of the inherent balance provided by the front-engined, rear-wheel drive setup. This has made it the best car in class, according to CarGurusUK, who also made another bold claim in their video review.


  • Dennis James

    “In terms of pure driver appeal, it doesn’t stand out compared to its predecessors”.

    That’s what they say about the FWD versus the older RWD. And it’s enough for me to look elsewhere to cheaper brands if I need a premium FWD car, I mean, why would someone buy a BMW if not for its top-notch dynamics ? If you remove that requirement, there are countless other options. The former 1-series was unique because it was about the only RWD compact car, and it was also a great one, albeit not very good looking, but it was money well spent.

    • Holmer_k

      I agree. Pricing for the cheapest version of the 1 series starts at 24 thousand pounds. In US dollars, that’s 30k. For 30k, we can buy the Veloster N which while cdrtainly not premium is a nice little car and very fun to drive plus has over 100 hp more and a 6 speed manual in the base configuration. The 1M will have more hp coming in at 306, but it costs 45k US. I know which one I’d buy and it’s not the BMW. And my last car was a 335. I loved it, and it was a great car for me until I got tboned last year, but I doubt I’d buy another.

    • SteersUright


    • Nowan

      to me mk1 was very cool looking, too bad RWD layout pays high price for interior space

  • TheBelltower

    I find large, midsize and full-size FWD vehicle to be abhorrent. However, in a small short-wheelbase car, FWD can be a lot of fun. No one should have any complaints with the driving dynamics of a GTI or Mini. BMW knows a thing or two about what a FWD car should be. So I anticipate the 1 will do well.

  • SteersUright

    I dont like it, its rather unattractive but to its credit, its much better than the sedan version which is just hideous.

  • ThatGuy

    I can see the business case for the FWD BMW and i bet it will drive epic and be sharp. Not Ford Focus dynamic but up there. Besides majority of people who purchase the base model dont really fall into car enthusiast category.
    The 135i will come with x-drive so no real need for the enthusiast needing RWD.

    But still in this category a Golf, and yes i know its dull, is the best. But still when this depreciates i would pick one up on the trot and enjoy it for a bit. Before realising i should have got a Golf or A3, then selling up for less to get one of those.
    Hey what can i say, mistakes will be made.

  • Loquacious Borborygmus

    The new 1-series is now FWD, but that hardly matters to the average buyer.

    Yeah, well I don’t want an average car.

    • slither16

      That’s the kind of excuse GM would make.

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