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The BMW 1 Series: Where did it come from and why should I buy one?

As a small family hatchback, the BMW 1 Series entered a hotly contested sector of the car market, and immediately shifted perspectives. In a market dominated by the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Audi A3, the BMW had a lot to live up to - and it did.

BMW had attempted to gain some market share in the small car sector with the BMW 3 Series Compact, which was available as E36 and E46 derivatives of the 3 Series. Despite enjoying some success, the 3 Series Compact was never a huge seller. To make headway in the small family car market, BMW needed something different, and in 2004 launched the 1 Series.

The BMW was marketing it as a drivers car, with the engine in the front and the drive coming from the back. The 1 Series quickly gained good reviews and enjoyed popularity with buyers.

For the first time, the humble family hatchback was available with a BMW badge. A sporty Coupe and a Convertible joined the 3 and 5 door models in 2007. At first the Coupe seemed like a damp squib, but it’s quirky design and stub-nosed tailgate won buyers over. Although all 1 Series models feature a range of economical petrol and diesel engines, the M badged 135i has become an instant classic.

If you’re looking for a performance sports car, then the M135i is an excellent choice. Top Gear announced that the M135i was their Sports Car of the Year in 2012, and for good reason… it drives wonderfully, but you should hear the sound it makes!

Not all buyers are looking for out-and-out performance, so why should the everyday driver choose a 1 Series over a Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus or Audi A3? Well, the 1.8 and 2.0 litre diesel engines are some of the best on the market, and BMW’s petrol engines have a long heritage behind them. With rear wheel drive, the 1 Series does set itself apart from its competitors. The driver feels connected to the chassis whilst mod cons are never lacking.


As a family hatchback, the 1 Series is practical and great looking. It’s safe and reliable, yet it’ll pin a grin on your face when that favourite stretch of B road is empty on a summer evening… And of course, there’s that famous BMW badge sat up front on the bonnet.


If you haven’t experienced the rear-wheel-drive pleasure of a BMW 1 Series, we have a huge selection to choose from, in a variety of colours and specifications. At Imperial Car Supermarkets, we’ll be happy to get you behind the wheel of a BMW.

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