By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.5
Good enough to make some 3 Series buyers think twice, the 2013 BMW 1 Series Coupe and Convertible speak to many 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 around $32,000 and the new up-power 135is costing about $44,000 for its 320 turbocharged horses. Convertible variants across the line add the option of open-air motoring. The 1 Series is a simple, straightforward little package that takes the driving experience seriously.
If you like your driving served "straight up," the 2013 BMW 1 Series is your machine: Front engine, rear-wheel drive, good power and poised handling, all tuned and developed on the assumption you want your car to feel and sound and move just so.
The 1 Series, in either Coupe or Convertible guise, may be simple in specifications but a car like this is still costly to engineer and manufacture. If "driving dynamics" doesn't mean too much to you, you'll probably find a better transportation value in an Acura, Audi or VW.
A new higher-performance model joins the BMW 1 Series line for 2013, the 135is. It uses a version of the 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6-cylinder engine that also powers the 135i, but tuned for a power increase from 300 horsepower to 320.
Driving Impressions With reasonably light curb weight, an almost perfect 50:50 weight distribution and a choice of responsive powertrains – all using BMW's signature and still delightful inline-6 engine configuration – the...2013 1 Series Coupe and Convertible provide an entertaining brew of spirited performance, dynamic handling and good efficiency. All versions are taut and tossable, and willing to play with an enthusiastic driver. Obviously, the new 320-horsepower 135is is the most exhilarating of the bunch, but there is plenty to recommend the balance and sweet nature of the 128i. The Convertible versions drive very much like their Coupe brethren, with very little perceptible flex in the structure and entirely acceptable interior noise levels.
The inline-6-cylinder engine is becoming a rarity (most sixes today are Vs) because their height and length make them tricky to package. But that configuration is perfectly balanced, and there is still nothing quite like the crisp, velvety, free-revving feel and sound of a BMW straight-6.
BMW ULTIMATE SERVICE
After writing the big check you just want to enjoy your car. BMW's Ultimate Service helps makes that possible, covering ALL maintenance for the first four years and 50,000 miles of ownership. From oil to brake pads to wiper blades, if it wears out or needs replacing, it's covered.
The simple, businesslike interior of the 2013 BMW 1 Series suggests an "everything you need, nothing you don't" approach. It's an environment obviously crafted 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.
Moving into 2013, the 1 Series' collection of compound curves is nearing the end of its production cycle. While the simple, unadorned form doesn't reek of planned obsolescence, it also doesn't seem destined to be a classic. It's a little narrow for its height, without strong character in the face or profile, though it is clean, with a saucy little rake in its stance. The 18-inch wheels and fatter tires on the 135i and 135is fill up the wheel wells and do improve the look some over the 17-inchers on the 128i.
Most notable – from a driver's point of view – is BMW's iconic inline-6 engine, whose smoothness and flexibility may spoil you for other drivetrains. Beyond that, a base 128i is not deep in modern features and equipment, but it does include Dynamic Stability Control (incorporating hill assist and brake drying), heated outside mirrors, 8-way (manual) adjustable front seats, automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity and a leather-rimmed sport steering wheel with audio and phone controls. The rear seat that's actually spacious enough to use qualifies as another noteworthy standard feature.
The best 1 Series options live in packages, including the M Sport Package (firmer suspension, distinctive wheels, M Sport steering wheel and deeper bucket seats), the Premium Package (auto-dimming mirrors, keyless entry, power front seats and SiriusXM satellite radio) and the Technology Package (navigation with real-time traffic, voice commands, the BMW Assist telematics and Online Services, which can deliver weather, stocks and Google Maps information to the car's display screen). A power moonroof and audio upgrade from harman/kardon are among the stand-alone options.
BMW's inline-6 is legendary and has been a signature ingredient of small BMWs for some 25 years. The 128i synchs a normally aspirated 230-horsepower 3.0 with a 6-speed manual transmission or optional 6-speed automatic. Next up the power ladder is a turbocharged version putting out 300 horses in the 135i, teamed with the manual or a 7-speed twin-clutch automatic. New for 2013 is the range-toping 135is, whose turbo 3.0 is tuned for 320 horsepower, with the same manual or twin-clutch automatic transmissions. The relentless march toward fuel efficiency may eventually force replacement of these lovely straight-6s with turbocharged-4s, whose performance will be great but whose running character and soundtrack won't come close to the traditional BMW inline-6 experience.
230 horsepower at 6,500 rpm
200 lb-ft of torque at 2,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/28 mpg, 18/27 mpg (Convertible, automatic)
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6
300 horsepower at 5,800 rpm
300 lb-ft of torque at 1,300-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg (Coupe, manual), 18/25 mpg (Coupe, automatic), 17/26 mpg (Convertible, manual and automatic)
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6
320 horsepower at 5,800 rpm
317 lb-ft of torque at 1,500-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg (Coupe, manual), 18/25 mpg (Coupe, automatic), 19/28 mpg (Convertible, manual), 19/25 mpg (Convertible, automatic)
The starting Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a 2013 BMW 128i Coupe is $32,095, and selecting heavily from the available options, including Premium and Technology Packages, can push that past $47,000. A 135i Coupe runs $40,195, and the new 135is Coupe starts at $44,145. If you'd prefer your BMW 1 Series with a fully lined power-folding top, the Convertible versions run another $5,000 or so: $37,795 for the 128i, $44,995 for the 135i, $48,845 for the 135is. A fully optioned 135is Convertible can top $63,000. Be sure and check KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price for a clear idea of what consumers pay in your market area. And if you're concerned about the cost of ownership and resale value, you'll be glad to know the 1 Series is among the top in its category for residual value.
By A_Diaz on Tuesday, March 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great acceleration"
Cons: "Interior dashboard is plastic makes a lot of noise"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Car has a very powerful engine. The driving dynamics are outstanding, which makes it very agile in tight turns. The interior is very elegant, but the downside to it is that the dashboard is 80% plastic so cracks and makes noise a lot. Other than that the car is great and fun to drive."
6 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By Wuggins on Monday, March 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Cons: "Hard ride"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Outstanding manumatic combined with a throaty powerful engine and responsive steering and roadholding makes this more of a true sports car. Lots of fun and very fast, so much so you've really got to be careful or it could run away on you. Rides a little hard on the run flats, but if you value driving over pure comfort this car is a great value especially compared to the newer model which only offers a 4 cylinder turbo as the entry level engine which also sounds more like a Corolla than a throaty sports car. The six cylinder drivetrain combined with the manumatic is outstanding. What a pity they gave that up!"
8 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By tomsbob on Friday, February 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Discreet, small, super quick."
Cons: "Funny looking from front. Small rear seat."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I am writing this review because I am about to trade it in for an M3. I think I miss it already. The acceleration and balance are outstanding. I drive this car 12 months a year in Minnesota in all weathers and I have never had issues. You do need snow tires in winter in snowy climes. I have driven 3 and 5 series and they just feel loose and sloppy. The 135i is the tightest feeling car you can drive. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a discreet, non "look at me" type of vehicle that can chew and spit out any fat muscle car. Still can't believe I am going to lose her."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By jackie on Wednesday, February 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive"
Cons: "poor reliability costs both time and money"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"I have a cashmere silver 128i convertible which I enjoyed a lot during sunny days in California. It's very sleek especially with top down however the car feels a bit plastic from inside. The car suffers from time to time various sensor/controller problems. First it's some minor issue and then, just right after the warranty expired, bigger problems started to show up. I always admire the superior quality of German engine and transmission, but the electronics for the entry level car seems to be less reliable and reverse the overall reliability. The overall cost to own this car for more than 5 years could be much higher than expected."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Pkaia on Monday, January 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 112,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Forget all of the opinions of BMW - expensive, (repairs), etc. this is a sweet dynamic driving package that, if maintained (a word probably 90% of owners dont understand), will give you a long amount of driving pleasure. I have the base of the base BMW line: 128i, manual trnasmission, no options except sunroof. Yet it is a pleasure to drive (not text, not phone, etc). If you are one of the minority of people who actually enjoy driving, seriously consider this car. I get 30mpg on the highway, have fun on the twisties, etc. No mechanical/repair issues whatsoever. But i maintain the car myself, change the oil at half the BMW recommended interval, chnge the "lifetime" fluids every 30K, etc. If you want to "own"" and "drive" a car, consider this one. The reliability of a Toyota/Honda but with BMW dynamics. This is a sporty coupe that will not win every stoplight war, not keep up with the Porsches in the curves. But a RWD NA six cylinder with good dynamics for $10K? Try and find another like it."
4 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Ken 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!"
6 people out of 8 found this review helpful