By KBB.com Editors
Unstable gas prices and increasingly crowded roads have turned many car-buyers' eyes toward small cars. BMW once dominated this market with its iconic 2002 and later with the first Z convertibles. With the introduction last year of the 1 Series Convertible, BMW proves it still has what it takes to compete in the entry-level luxury market. The smart and stylish 1 Series provides a drop-top coupe catering to those who think BMW's 3 Series has grown too big and expensive.
If you think smaller and lighter cars tend to be the most fun, we think you'll like the 2009 BMW 1 Series Convertible. It features a quiet, well insulated top and excellent top-down air-flow management, freeing it from the vices that commonly plague convertibles.
You may not like the BMW 1 Series Convertible if you want both front and rear passengers to be equally comfortable, as the rear seats border on claustrophobic.
A heated steering wheel is added the 128i's Cold Weather Package and becomes a stand alone option on the 135i. 1 Series cars ordered with navigation receive the latest iDrive system, which includes new menus, programmable memory keys and access to Google Maps.
Driving Impressions While many convertibles drive like watered-down versions of their fixed-roof siblings, the 2009 BMW 1 Series Convertible retains most of the sharp handling dynamics found in its Coupe counterpart. Steering...feel is good, offering just the right amount of resistance and precise control of the front wheels. The structure of the 1 Series Convertible feels strong and is generally free of rattles and squeaks when driving over rough pavement. The 230-horsepower engine in the 128i is no slouch, but with 300 horsepower on tap the twin-turbocharged engine in the 135i is the real star. It's the same engine used in the larger, heavier 3 Series and, in the smaller 135i, it delivers great power to pass and a swift zero-to-60-mph time of 5.3 seconds.
Sun Reflective Upholstery
Driving a convertible is fun but also offers its share of inconveniences. For example, on particularly bright and sunny days the interior surfaces of many convertibles retain a lot of heat. The optional Boston leather interior treatment of the 1 Series Convertible features Sun Reflective technology, which virtually eliminates this problem.
The BMW 1 Series Convertible features a three-layer soft top that keeps road and wind noise to near coupe-like levels. Additionally, the power-operated top can be raised or lowered in about 22 seconds and at speeds up to 25 miles per hour.
The 1 Series is the least expensive convertible offered by BMW, but the interior treatment is anything but cheap, featuring high-quality materials and modern style. With the soft top in the raised position the cabin remains impressively quiet and, with the top lowered, airflow around the cabin is nicely controlled. Seating in the 1 Series Convertible is limited to four and, while front-seat passengers enjoy good head and leg room, rear-seat passengers might feel cramped by limited shoulder space. Trunk space is tight but, with clever arrangement, there is enough room for a weekend's worth of luggage.Exterior
Bucking the current trend toward retractable hardtops, BMW has equipped the 1 Series with a fabric top, a decision we support, considering the fabric top's lighter weight and excellent sound insulation. The 1 Series Convertible features a wide, sporty stance that is further accentuated by lowering the convertible top. Adding to the visual impact are a sharply creased shoulder line, signature BMW twin-kidney grille and a spoiler integrated into the trunk lid. The more-powerful 135i sports an aggressive exterior treatment that includes an additional rear spoiler to provide greater downforce at high speeds.
Among the standard features offered on the 2009 BMW 1 Series Convertible are automatic climate control with convertible mode setting, power windows with one-touch up-and-down function, power-retractable soft top, rain-sensing windshield wipers, cruise control and a 10-speaker audio system with auxiliary input for MP3 players. In terms of safety, the 1 Series includes standard front and front-side airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS), stability and traction controls and active roll bars that automatically deploy in the event of a vehicle roll-over.
Many of the available options are divided into packages. The Cold Weather Package includes heated front seats and a ski bag with pass-through from the trunk to the cabin; on the 128i, a heated steering wheel is included as well. The Premium Package features power front seats with memory, auto-dimming mirrors, leather seating and an interior lighting package. The Sport Package increases the speed setting of the top speed limiter and adds sport seats plus other racy details. Stand-alone options include a navigation system, a heated steering wheel (135i), xenon headlights, HD radio, satellite radio and BMW's Active Steering system.
Most buyers will find the 230-horsepower in-line six-cylinder engine powering the 128i to be perfectly acceptable. Those who want even more performance can choose the 135i and its twin-turbocharged engine, which produces 300 horsepower, enabling acceleration from zero to 60 miles per hour in a little more than five seconds. Both models feature a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic.
3.0-liter in-line 6
230 horsepower at 6500 rpm
200 lb.-ft. of torque at 2750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/27 (automatic), 18/28 (manual)
3.0-liter in-line 6 Turbocharged
300 horsepower at 5800 rpm
300 lb.-ft. of torque at 1400-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/26
By Ken (MI) on Tuesday, October 22, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,143overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "The fun factor"
Cons: "To some the fact I get around 25 mpg avg."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This car is so fun to go out for a drive in. I had gotten to the point I hated driving, but this car changed that. I am having to much fun in it for the stupid drivers to even bother me. It is not going to blow the doors off a full fledged sports car. It will give you that sports cars fun with the comfort of BMW. I plan on owning this cars for many more years!"
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Norman (AZ) on Saturday, October 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handles well"
Cons: "Service requests"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This car needs more maintenance that a high school girl with a crush. Every time I open my email I another email from the dealership telling me the car needs to come in for service. While they explain to me it's routine, they don't have any respect for my time, and it's a royal pain. The dealership sells me, "don't you want your car to be well maintained, it's a free service." Having had over forty vehicles before this one, I'm not accustomed to weekly visits to the dealership. The dealership (Chapman) BMW sold me a 'certified' used BMW, claiming the car had been gone over from the top of the antenna, to the bottom of the tires, from the front bumper to the rear. Well, one alternator, one oil leak, and three days of lost service in the first four months, has taught me I'll never own another BMW. My time is far more valuable and their respect for my time isn't important enough for this headache."
By durhamnative (NC) on Monday, August 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "great engine, ride, handling"
Cons: "lacking in the quality of the vehicle"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"Purchased my 2009 128i new with the premium package and Navigation in December 2010. Traded a 6 year old Audi TT that was starting to give problems. The 128i has excellent power, a super smooth inline 6 and has a nice balance of ride/handling. Reliability has not been great. There have been 6 trips to the dealer for power window problems, 2 trips for the third brake light lens falling off, 2 trips for the power steering gear puking fluid all over the garage and finally the leather seat stitching on the rear seats has failed even though no one has ever sat on them. All this on a car with just over 25,000 miles that is garage kept and well maintained. I love the way it drives, but just not happy with the repairs, my warranty runs out in December and I will probably be trading this Bimmer in and it will probably be for a 2014 Honda Accord Coupe EX-L V6, not another BMW."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By KevinB (CA) on Monday, July 29, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 52,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Powerful, sporty, handles great"
Cons: "Expensive, minor problems"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I originally purchased the 135i back when I lived in Chicago. At the time, we were just entering winter and I had never driven a RWD car in snow before. As far as winter is concerned, this car should be kept as far away from snow as possible. I actually had to miss a few days of work due to not being able to get out of my neighborhood from the lack of traction. In any weather besides snow and ice, this car absolutely shines. I had made the decision to move to Southern California in the fall of 2012 and being as such, I would drive my 135i all the way from Chicago to San Diego. That is a 2200 mile trip for those wondering. Through the duration of that trip, the car did not have a single hiccup or problem. It cruises perfectly, it handles elevation changes like a dream and it surprisingly has plenty of room to fit tons of belongings by using the folding rear seats. My only qualms with this car are the remote keys do not have an internal battery and thus need to be charged in order to work. The problem with that is the keys sometimes barely charge or do not charge at all, so you may find yourself using the actual key more frequently than you use the remote entry keys. Then of course, there is the fuel economy. While it does get relatively decent fuel economy (21.5mpg overall), I wished it got just a bit higher mileage for the sake of my wallet. Something in the 26 to 27mpg area seems feasible to me. Now granted, you can achieve those numbers or higher ones, but you are not going to enjoy the car for what it is, which brings me to my final point. This car is a true sports car. The gear changes, both upshifts and downshifts, are precise. The engine builds power from way down low in the RPMs all the way to redline. And, of course, the handling is absolutely extraordinary. Since the car is so small and light, while still producing plenty of power, you would be surprised by the different types of higher horsepower cars it can keep up with. Overall, the BMW 135i is an amazing little sports car which I would absolutely recommend to anyone looking for something sporty and small."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By eb (CA) on Wednesday, July 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 51,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "extended warranty a bargin, fun drive"
Cons: "cruise control in out of view and hard to engage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is my first BMW 128i...bought it sight unseen from the dealer - no test drive - went on my instincts....proved I was not wrong. I have the Premium package, which serves me perfectly fine. I would encourage anyone looking for a fun _relaxing driving experience to purchase or lease this car.....you will not be sorry."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By CW (CA) on Wednesday, July 17, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,400overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handles like a go-kart on Steriods"
Cons: "Audio should have more than 6 speakers"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is #4 BMW 86-325e, 92 525it, 95 525i and then this one. Surprising amount of legroom for my 6ft4 frame and long legs. Sport Seats are great, Sport Suspension is tight, but expected that and love that it handles like a go kart on steriods, I would have been in trouble with the turbo model. You can get some serious power off the line using the paddle shifters. Is also an awsome cruiser at 80mph and above. Base Audio system could be better, however still sounds much better than most, but find that it does best with iPod or CD plugged in. Only complaint is that the paint peeled on the passenger door. BMW sent to thier paint shop, completed the repair under warranty and I really do not notice where it was repaired. Don't be afraid to replace the run flat tires with something a little softer that isn't run flat. Worst case scenario is that you get a flat and have to be towed, which is still cheaper than $1300 for a set of tires."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful