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BMW 1 Series (2004-2011) Buying Guide

BMW 1 Series (2004-2011)
BMW 1 Series (2004-2011)BMW 1 Series (2004-2011)BMW 1 Series (2004-2011)BMW 1 Series (2004-2011)BMW 1 Series (2004-2011)BMW 1 Series (2004-2011)BMW 1 Series (2004-2011)BMW 1 Series (2004-2011)Pictures shown may not represent exact model specified

by Richard Dredge

Years after the debuts of key rivals such as the Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class, BMW unleashed its own posh small hatch with the 1-Series. In true Bavarian fashion there were superb engines and a great rear-wheel drive chassis, while the 1-Series was also beautifully built and brilliant to drive. But while the 1-Series proved controversial with its challenging styling and high prices, the car was a success for its maker and now makes a great used buy.

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We LikeWe Don't Like
Build quality
Efficient engines
Engine choice
Lots of bodystyles
High purchase and running costs
Cramped rear seats
Awkward styling
Key Dates 
5/04The 1-Series five-door hatch arrives, in 116i, 118i, 120i, 118d and 120d forms.
9/05The first hot 1-Series appears; the 265bhp six-cylinder 130i.
3/07A three-door hatch debuts, along with a high-power 2.0-litre diesel (the 123d). At the same time, all models get reprofiled bumpers and lights.
7/07A 1-Series coupé arrives, in 135i, 120d and 123d guises.
3/08A Convertible 1-Series is introduced, with a choice of petrol engines; the 125i coupé and convertible also debut.
7/08There are now 118d and 123d convertibles.
1/09The 116d debuts.
9/09118d and 120i versions of the coupé are now offered.
12/10The 340bhp 1-Series M Coupé now tops the range.
  • Optional run-flat tyres means the ride is firm; M Sport editions are even firmer.
  • Manual diesel cars suffer from failure of the dual-mass flywheel; it's a costly fix.
  • Some early petrol-powered cars suffer ECU failures, requiring a new unit.
  • The run-flat tyres are costly, so make sure what's fitted doesn't need to be replaced in the near future.
  • Steering racks can wear quickly; many have already been replaced. Check for fluid leaks from the gaiters.
  • The 120d's turbocharger can prove short-lived; watch out for excessive oil smoke from the exhaust when accelerating.

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