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2012 BMW 1 Series

Overview
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2012 BMW 1 Series Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 7.6

Good enough to even to make some 3 Series buyers think twice, the 2012 BMW 1 Series Coupe and Convertible remain relevant to any number of BMW enthusiasts, as well as younger buyers wanting an easier entrée into the joy of driving. And you can enjoy the 1 Series as aggressively as you care to, with an entry-level 128i offering 230 horsepower for just around $32K, or the more expressive 135i delivering 300 ponies for roughly $8,000 more. Finally, drop-top variants are also offered, at price points roughly $5,000 higher. If an address ending in "Ocean" is within an hour's drive, you should consider the 1 Series Convertible. And sunscreen.

You'll Like This Car If...

If, within the vast menu of the new-car market, you prefer your automotive calories "straight up," the 2012 1 Series is your machine. Front engine, rear-wheel drive, fully independent suspension and enough options to skew your order either "luxe" (leather) or "loud" (BMW performance exhaust), the 1 Series presents itself as completely appropriate to your automotive aspirations, and no one else's.

You May Not Like This Car If...

The 1 Series, in either Coupe or Convertible guise, is about as simple in spec as an automotive purchase can get. That won't, however, mask its cost of engineering, manufacture and transportation to the U.S. In short, if "driving dynamic" means little or nothing to you, you'll probably find a better transportation alternative at an Acura, Audi or (even) VW showroom.

What's New for 2012

The 2012 1 Series is given little more than minor tweaks. The most notable update in 2011 was under the hood of the 135i, when it received a more responsive version of the tried-and-true 3.0-liter in-line six. At the same time, the 135i received a 7-speed Double Clutch automatic transmission (optional), while the 128i continued with an optional 6-speed Steptronic automatic. The most significant change on the 2012 BMW 1 Series landscape is the discontinuation of the 1 Series M Coupe. Its limited production run is marked "Sold."

Driving the 1 Series

Driving Impressions With reasonably light curb weight, an almost perfect 50:50 weight distribution and a choice of responsive powertrains, the 2012 1 Series Coupe and Convertible provide an entertaining envelope of spirited...

performance, dynamic handling and reasonable efficiency. As with most cars and SUVs in the BMW lineup, BMW's smallest entry is well-connected to the road via its principal touch points: steering, braking and acceleration. Of course, the most exhilarating is the 135i Coupe, but an argument can be made for the better balance of the 128i. And if you live near a beach, or have access to scenic roadways, going slower with a top down is a viable alternative to tickets – or jail time.

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. BMW's 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 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!

2012 BMW 1 Series Details
Interior

Nissan once suggested that its Xterra SUV had "everything you need, nothing you don't." Much the same descriptive could be applied to the 2012 1 Series Coupe and Convertible. These are interiors drawn for the motoring athlete, and while upgrades – notably leather and wood trim – are available, they remain largely irrelevant for those with an interest in the 1 Series as a driving instrument. For them, the available sport bucket seats and M Sport steering wheel are the only necessary or appropriate upgrades.

Exterior

Moving into the 2012 model year, this specific collection of compound curves is nearing the end of its production cycle, and while the simple, unadorned form doesn't reek of planned obsolescence, neither is the sheet metal so fresh or original as to suggest "classic." The 1 Series' architecture suggests a "shrink-to-fit" approach, but we appreciate a footprint that remains a tossable alternative to the ever-larger 3 Series.

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 turbocharged, 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

Were we building our own 2012 1 Series, we'd opt of one of two Sport packages. At a relatively low ($1,300) cost of entry is the base Sport package, providing a firmer suspension, staggered tire size, an increased top-speed limiter and sport buckets (with more aggressive bolster). The M Sport ($2,450) takes the above additions and supplements them with an aggressive aero kit and M Sport steering wheel. (Given the simplistic mechanical menu of the 1 Series Coupes, we're inclined to leave ours cosmetically stock.) Of course, for those wanting to stay connected to both the road and the world around them, BMW Connected Drive affords you a host of technologies, all within the reach of a thumb.

Under the Hood

BMW's in-line six is legendary, and has been a signature ingredient of small BMWs (in the U.S.) for some 25 years. For those finding the classic, normally aspirated recipe most desirable, the 128i synched to the standard 6-speed manual transmission is your well-developed answer (a 6-speed automatic is available as an option). And while its 230 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque may be duplicated by its eventual replacement, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four, the silky smoothness of an in-line six will never be replicated by anything other than an in-line six. In the next 135i, the six will probably be retained; as with most automakers, however, BMW's drive to efficiency will eventually trump any further attempts at engineered nostalgia. The 2012 135i's 3.0-liter in-line 6-cylinder engine transmits 300 horsepower through a 6-speed manual or optionally available 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

128i Coupe and 128i Convertible:
3.0-liter in-line 6
230 horsepower at 6,500 rpm
200 lb-ft of torque at 2,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/28, 18/27 (Convertible with automatic transmission)

135i Coupe and 135i Convertible:
3.0-liter in-line 6 turbocharged
300 horsepower at 5,800 rpm
300 lb-ft of torque at 1,400-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 (Coupe with manual transmission), 19/28 (Convertible, manual transmission), 18/25 (automatic transmission)

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2012 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."

21 people out of 33 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?