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Used BMW 1 Series review

10 Jan 2024

The BMW 1 Series looks great and drives like a 3 Series, despite being significantly cheaper. That has made it a very popular second-hand car, with prices remaining high for all used BMW 1 Series models. However, with the Mk2 being introduced in 2011 and the Mk1 dating back to 2004, there’s always scope to go a little older and get a 1 Series that meets your budget.

Over the years, BMW has offered plenty of different trim levels and engine options, so you can pick and choose the perfect family hatch. The Mk1 BMW Series ran from 2004-2011, the Mk2 from 2011-2019 and the front-wheel drive Mk3 from 2019-present. In this review, we’ll focus on the Mk2 onwards, but with so many options out there, how can you find the best used BMW 1 Series for sale? Here’s a little help.

Pros and Cons


  • Great to drive
  • Efficient yet powerful engines
  • Excellent infotainment systems


  • Alternatives are more spacious and have roomier boots
  • The Mk3 is front-wheel drive (one for the purists)
  • The Mk2 lacks practicality

How does it look?

For a compact car, the BMW 1 Series has an upmarket and classy feel. Yes, it’s an entry-level BMW but it certainly doesn’t look like it. The Mk2 had a facelift in 2015 and the facelifted models have a better-looking front and rear than their predecessors, but inside there’s little difference. 

The long bonnet and rounded rear of the Mk2 can be initially challenging on the eye, but fantastic sales and the buoyant used BMW 1 Series market show that its looks are a hit with buyers.  

The Mk3 BMW 1 Series comes with front-wheel drive as standard, meaning it no longer boasts the long, sweeping bonnet of its predecessors. However, it still has the angular lines and creases worthy of any sporty hatchback. The Mk3 is also 5-door only, making it more practical and far easier to get child seats in and out, while the Mk2 comes with 3 or 5 doors.    

Inside, the Mk2 and Mk3 both feel very driver-focused, with a high-centre console, stubby manual gear levers and a low seating position for a sporty feel. You also have the premium displays and controls you’d expect from a BMW and an excellent infotainment system sitting proudly atop the dash.

What’s it like to drive?

Whether you buy a brand new or used BMW 1 Series, it’s a fantastic car to drive. It tows the perfect line between firmness and comfort, with responsive steering and excellent handling and refinement. The big difference between the Mk2 and Mk3 is the switch from rear-wheel to front-wheel drive, but while the BMW purists may not like it, it makes little difference to the driving experience.  

The good news, for the purists and everyone else, is that the sporty looks of the 1 Series are matched by its performance. Even the entry-level 118i petrol engine can get you from 0-60mph in 8.5 seconds, giving you some idea of what the already iconic BMW M135i and M140i are capable of. 

Which is the best used BMW 1 Series to buy?

Whether you’re pottering around town or cruising up and down the UK’s motorways, you’ll find that all of the BMW 1 Series engines are more than up to the task. 

If you’re looking for a Mk2, the 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine in the 118i delivers sprightly performance and excellent economy, peaking at a surprisingly good 56.5mpg. The extremely economical 116d is tough to beat if you do thousands of motorway miles. And if it’s performance you’re after, the M135i xDrive 5dr Step Auto, which became the M140i after the 2015 facelift, might be pricey but it’s an absolute sensation. 

The entry-level SE trim on the Mk2 includes the essentials but lacks that all-important sat-nav. The Sport looks the part, with sports seats and alloy wheels, while the M Sport has larger wheels still, climate control and an aerodynamic body kit. We think the Sport will do most people just fine. 

On the lookout for a great Mk3 used BMW 1 Series for sale? Then like the Mk2, the 118i petrol is a sensible choice, but consider the diesel 116d if you’re doing heavy mileage. Spec-wise, the Sport is a good compromise and gives you plenty of luxuries along with a softer ride. The M Sport adds extras such as leather seats and front heat seating, but the big draw is the firmer suspension, which improves the handling and provides a sportier ride. 

How much is a used BMW 1 Series?

You’ll see Mk2 used BMW 1 Series for sale for around £5,000, although it’s probably worth spending up to £6,000 for a good 2011 or 2012 model with reasonable mileage and a full service history. Stretch to £10,000 to get yourself an average mileage 2014-2015 1 Series, while £15,000 to £20,000 will get you a 2018 car. 

A used Mk3 BMW 1 Series starts at around £19,000, with the diesel models typically costing £500 to £1,000 more. A low mileage and decent spec 2020 model will cost between £20,000 and £25,000, and you can add an extra £5,000 to that for something from 2021. A used BMW M135i is a real favourite of second-hand car buyers, so you can expect a price tag of £30,000 plus. 

Are you on the look out for a used BMW 1 Series? Take a look at Tangelo's current BMW stock and get in touch with our friendly and knowledgeable sales team to book an appointment or a test drive at our Exeter Customer Hub.

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