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2011 BMW 1 Series

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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 New for 2011

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)

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2011 BMW 1 Series Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.1
Out of 10

Based on 137 Ratings for the 2008 - 2013 models.

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

Easily the best car I've ever owned

By on Saturday, April 16, 2016

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
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Everything about it makes me happy."

Cons: "Stock tires are not ideal but that is easy to fix."

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

"This has been the perfect car for me. Small, highly reliable, very fun and fast enough. My 128i Coupe M Sport 5sp manual is better in almost every way to the Boxster I previously owned. It is more reliable (no repairs, in 2.5 yrs) it feels safer in traffic, it is far more comfortable, it has a much nicer stereo and nav system, rides better and was far far less expensive (a nice bonus). The only places where my Boxster held an edge were at the limit handling and steering precision. I'd rate the 128i a 9/10 on these dimensions and the Boxster a 10/10 but overall I'd rate the 128i a 9.5/10 and the Boxster a 7/10. I plan to buy this car at the end of this year when the lease has ended. There is nothing else on the market <$45k that interests me and certainly nothing for the $20k lease end purchase option price."

4 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Big Engine + Small Car = Ear-to-Ear Smiles!!!

By on Wednesday, January 6, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 19,366

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "FUN TO DRIVE PERIOD."

Cons: "2013 was last year made..."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"With an impressive power-to-weight ratio - the 128i is the far more reliable, "second cousin" to the stout 135i. However, in comparison, the 128i is certainly no slouch in the driving excitement department either. The refined, 3.0L six-cylinder engine has been in service, since 1992 and is simply bulletproof. Get one now....BMW will never produce a car of this caliber again."

4 people out of 6 found this review helpful

75k miles and very little maintenance

By on Wednesday, December 2, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 75,000

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
9/10

Pros: "Fun to drive, fast car"

Cons: "No spare wheel"

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

"This car is used as a daily commuting car (~100miles a day) and get about 25mpg city + HWY (~30mpg at 65mph). I've had no maintenance issues after 75k miles (besides the fuel pump which was changed early on). The car is great, acceleration is amazing and it's easy to park anywhere. I've tuned it up to ~390bhp (Dinan Stage 2) a few years back and got larger better michelin PSP tires. I'd definitively recommend it !"

7 people out of 15 found this review helpful

Great toDrive

By on Thursday, November 12, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Driving feel, smooth 6 M. overall responsiveness."

Cons: "No spare tire"

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

"Bought a base white 6 speed manual 2013 128 coupe new,sunroof delete, added the BMW performance suspension, BMW exhaust and intake, black grilles and had the wheels powder-coated black.Car handles like crazy especially after Michelin PS 2 tires were substituted for the awful run flats.And the sound,with the BMW exhaust is intoxicating!Its what a basic BMW should be; love it each time I get behind the wheel.Go find a good one, you'll be happy if you like a driver's car.Zero problems with this car Wife drives a 128 convertible,that we bought in 2011."

7 people out of 10 found this review helpful

Exceeded All Expectations

By on Thursday, June 4, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000

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: "Driving Perfection, Performance to value,"

Cons: "No cup holders, Tends to scare some passengers"

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

"I do not even know where to begin. This is a true drivers car. If you care about cup-holders and passenger convenience look at a different car. If you want the best driving and performing vehicle for the money look no further! I looked hi and low for the best balanced performance for under $50k in a new car. There is not a single vehicle that can touch this one in STOCK form at that price. $20k more or modified equally priced cars are the only competition. The fact that it is perfectly balanced and hits 90% of peak torque at 1900 RPM in a car the size of a HONDA CIVIC will blow you away! Don;t get me wrong, there are quicker and faster cars out there, just not in this price range. If you have a chance to get a 2013 135i or better a 2013 135is (like I have) you should not hesitate! Buy it and enjoy it until it dies a fun death on a track in a controlled environment! Just kidding PLEASE don't wreak it!I am only considering selling mine because my wife is going to become a stay at home mom and we are trying to consolidate bills. If I can find a way I will not sell it! I will keep it forever... Happy Hunting!"

16 people out of 37 found this review helpful

Awesome car! Reliable, Sporty, Cute, Fun to drive

By on Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,978

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: "Very fun to drive!"

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

"This little car is everything I was looking for when I bought her two years ago and still is. Except I just need something bigger now. its quick off the line and very responsive handling."

10 people out of 18 found this review helpful

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