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2011 BMW 1 Series

Overview
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2011 BMW 1 Series Review

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Although the 1 Series Coupe received its stateside launch (early 2008) prior to the global economic downturn, its spec and - to a degree - its pricing seem tailor-made for a motoring public moving to more efficient transportation while attempting to hold on to what we used to regard as motoring fun. All iterations of the 1 Series - Coupe and Convertible/128i and 135i - make for a compelling argument from a driving standpoint, while one might argue (and we will) that the savings afforded by the 135i is minimal when compared to its 3-Series stablemate.

You'll Like This Car If...

If your mom or dad had BMW's 2002 while growing up, or you had one while in school, the 1 Series is a valid successor, delivering a tight, tidy package and a more nimble footprint than the bigger 3 Series. Without that point of reference, the 1 Series will succeed for its on-road dynamic, quality of construction and reasonable - albeit not great - fuel efficiency. Also, if you're a fan of convertibles with soft tops, this is where you find it; BMW's 3 Series has gone to a convertible hardtop.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Even in its 128i guise, this is not an inexpensive purchase. You pay a real premium - $30,000 plus - to enjoy the benefits of BMW badging and rear-wheel drive. For those with an affection for front-wheel drive platforms, VW's GTI, Audi's A3 or Acura's TSX deliver far more bang - and arguably more style - for your automotive buck. And while not in the same segment, a V6-equipped Mustang delivers 300+ horsepower and 30 miles per gallon for a well-equipped price of under $25,000.

What's Significant About This Car?

Most notable update for 2011 is under the hood of the 135i, which receives a new 3.0 liter in-line six. Although horsepower and torque (300/300) remain the same as in 2010, the peak torque is now achieved at a low - make that very low - 1,200 rpm. The 135i also receives the 7-speed Double Clutch Transmission as an available option, while the 128i continues with its optional 6-speed Steptronic.

Driving the 1 Series

Driving Impressions At track day events hosted for automotive media, the 1 Series Coupe may not represent the latest or greatest in automotive sheetmetal, but you wouldn't know it from the people...

waiting in line to drive it. The car is an absolute blast on a winding piece of asphalt, and if everyone on that asphalt is going in the same direction, so much the better. The 135i, of course, is the most entertaining, but we like the balanced approach taken by the 128i (as well as a window sticker that's significantly less), and think that it most successfully channels the spirit of BMW's 2002. And while all iterations of the 1 Series will handle well, equipping your choice with the Sport option would seem to be the best blend of logical thinking and emotional strategy. You only live once, you know...

In-line Six
While we're hard-pressed to describe the 1 Series Coupe or Convertible as "near-luxury," that seems to be where the market perceives them to be. And in that context an in-line six is still very unusual in the segment, and very premium in its operation. The TwinPower Turbo, of course, gets the big ink, but we'd be happy with either the 135's turbo or 128's normally aspirated. And with the 128's base engine needing an additional second to get to 60, we'd leave one second earlier.

BMW Ultimate Service
You've written the big check (or financed the big number), and you simply want to sit back and enjoy the ownership process. BMW's Ultimate Service makes that possible, covering all (ALL) maintenance for the first four years and 50,000 miles of your ownership. From oil to brake pads to wiper blades, if it wears out or needs replacing, it's covered. And it's awesome!

2011 BMW 1 Series Details
Interior

In our view the 1 Series interior, while tightly drawn, is everything a BMW interior should be. While a base of over $30,000 should deliver - we think - leather as standard (or provide you with the option of cloth), the leatherette is both durable and easy to clean. You'll be pleased by the gauge layout, well-considered ergonomics and contemporary design which - ten years from now - will still look well executed. The rear seat should be regarded as little more than temporary seating for full-size adults, although it's much more expansive than your boss' 911. We'd note that the available sport steering wheel is one of the nicest contact points available anywhere, at any price. Finally, headroom on the convertible is virtually unlimited...

Exterior

Although described as one of the most refined applications of BMW's "flame surfacing," we're not sure that the end result works any better than those applications which were unrefined. In short, the 1 Series - at least in U.S. Coupe and Convertible spec - is an abbreviated footprint onto which the design team has attempted to project traditional proportions familiar to a U.S. consumer. While the end result works well enough (and we think the best perspective is the rear three-quarter view), we wish BMW would bite the bullet and give us the 3-door and 5-door variants of the 1 Series. Those we'd describe as refined - and still unavailable stateside. For drop-top fans, the 1 Series is undeniably cute, which may (or may not) be a good thing.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Most notable - in a driver's view - is an in-line six fitted to the 1 Series' standard spec. Whether normally aspirated or with BMW's TwinPower Turbo, the smoothness and flexibility of BMW's iconic six will spoil you for other drivetrains, especially at the 128's low-$30,000 price point. Beyond what's under the hood, we'll give a shout-out to what's behind the driver - a rear seat available to close friends or family. With an almost perfect 50:50 distribution of mass, the fact that the 1 Series can accommodate four is utterly amazing. In tougher economic times the best economy car is one car capable of doing most things, and that summarizes a 1 Series perfectly.

Optional Equipment

Among the typical sprinkling of options for the 128i are two Sport packages, both of which take an already sporting platform and sharpen it. The base Sport offering ($1,300) provides a sport suspension, a staggered tire size (205/50 front - 245/45 rear), an increased top speed limiter and sport buckets providing more bolster. The M Sport ($2,450) takes all of the above and adds an aggressive aero kit and M Sport steering wheel. Either choice provides entirely too much fun for a relatively small amount of coin. Stand-alone options are fairly predictable, and include navigation, Harman Kardon surround sound stereo and smartphone integration. On the 135i, the available DoubleClutch transmission is a huge gain for the performance enthusiast.

Under the Hood

The smoothness of the 128i's normally aspirated, 3.0 liter engine is to die for, and with its 230 horsepower it comes close to matching what Ferrari was offering in the 308 less than 30 years ago. As noted, the TwinPower Turbo is undeniably more powerful and flexible, but we're not sure it's worth the $9,000 premium - unless you plan to use it. Regardless of engine or transmission, the enthusiast will find the powertrain soul-stirring, while the daily commuter will find it eminently tractable and - given its performance envelope - extremely efficient.

3.0-liter in-line 6
230 horsepower at 6500 rpm
200 lb.-ft. of torque at 2750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/28

3.0-liter in-line 6 Turbocharged
300 horsepower at 5800 rpm
300 lb.-ft. of torque at 1200 - 5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 (automatic), 20/28 (manual)

Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?

2011 BMW 1 Series Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.0
Out of 10

Based on 126 Ratings for the 2008 - 2013 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.9/10
    Quality
    9.2/10
  • Reliability
    9.1/10
    Performance
    9.6/10
  • Comfort
    9.0/10
    Styling
    9.2/10

AMAZING car, its just as fun as my track miata

By on Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 46,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "300hp 300tq"

Cons: "not family friendly"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"i bought this vehicle wanting something a bit bigger than my miata and more comftorable, i looked for about 6 months to find just the right one and found an 08 with all the possible upgrades you can get including navigation, cold weather package, adaptive headlights and all those goodies. i drive this car everyday and has given me no issues other than a water pump. occasionally ill drive it hard and responds amazingly, the power is amazing and so is the handling. Its truly a drivers car! The only thing i think people might not like it the rear seats, not very spacious if you have a family but if your like me (21) and don't really carry people around all the time its an amazing vehicle. Exceeded all my expectations i had. The car is also very easy to work on as long as you have some "mechanical" experience."

9 people out of 17 found this review helpful

Very nice all around car!

By on Saturday, September 20, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Comfort, fun to drive, fuel economy"

Cons: "new prices"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"This car does not score a 10 in any category but it also never falls below a 7 or 8 in any category. It is a perfect daily driver if you're not regularly hauling more than 2 people. The turbo six cylinder has nice low end torque and the ergonomics make for a very comfortable car for those of average size."

10 people out of 20 found this review helpful

One of the 2 best cars I have owned in 40 years

By on Thursday, July 31, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Great fun to drive everyday"

Cons: "none"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Truly awesome driver's automobile. Awesome performance on great fuel economy. Not a family car. It excels at what it was made for. NO problems in 32,000 miles."

22 people out of 35 found this review helpful

This car is a beast, what every bmw should be

By on Thursday, July 10, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Hydraulic steering like it should be!"

Cons: "Don't drive in snow!"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Car in Valencia orange is a must,perfect dimensions,perfect steering, perfect suspension, only negative Is a/c is a little weak,even decent mpg"

5 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Oh.. don't make them anymore so has lost value

By on Saturday, June 21, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
2/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
6/10
Comfort
5/10

Cons: "Limited Edition has no value.."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"I bought this BMW thinking it would hold value and be a comfortable ride. Well, It has less value than I would have even imagined, unlike other BMW vehicles I have purchased. Very disappointed in BMW..."

12 people out of 26 found this review helpful

Best Car I Ever Own

By on Thursday, June 19, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Outstanding performance...get compliments whenever"

Cons: "None ...don't get a chance to drive it enough"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I bought this car in 10/12 and wasn't able to drive it right away....work and all...but after I was able to take it on a 2.5 hour drive. I was blown away.. .this is truly a Driver's Car...the car performs outstanding....put the top down and the exhaust sounds great. I would have given the car a 10 reliability but there was software update on the DCT which took a while to get iron out between BMW and the dealership. Once that was resolved the car performed even better. This car is a KEEPER for me."

6 people out of 7 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?