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2013 BMW 1-Series Review

Test drivers like the 2013 BMW 1-Series’ smooth transmissions, powerful engine and easy-to-use features, but say its small cargo space is a drawback.

A 230-horspower, inline six-cylinder engine comes standard on the BMW 1-Series. There are also two optional turbocharged inline six-cylinder engines, which make 300 and 320 horsepower, respectively. The latter engine is new for 2013. Test drivers are impressed with the base engine, which is one of the strongest in the class, and they say it has a smooth power delivery. Each model comes with a six-speed manual transmission, which test drivers seem to prefer over the available automatics. With the automatic transmission, the base 1-Series averages 18/28 mpg city/highway, according to the EPA. Overall, critics consider the 1-Series one of the most agile, refined cars in the class, characterized by limited body roll and strong brakes.

Though the 2013 1-Series outshines it classmates when it comes to performance, its four-seat cabin is one of the smallest in the class. According to automotive critics, the 1-Series’ front seats have good head- and legroom for adults, but the rear seats are only comfortable for adults for a short period of time. The BMW 1-Series coupe and convertible don’t have much cargo space. The coupe offers 10 cubic feet of space in its trunk, which is minimal for a small car. With high-quality materials and an attractive design, the 1-Series’ cabin meets reviewers’ expectations for a luxury small car. Each model comes with a USB adapter, Bluetooth and HD Radio. An infotainment system and a navigation system are optional. According to reviewers, the climate and audio systems are easy to use. They even say the infotainment system is pretty straightforward, which is uncommon praise for many luxury vehicles.

  • "The 1 Series is a simple, straightforward little package that takes the driving experience seriously." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "… BMW's entry-level cars deliver the marque's revered panache and dynamic properties with few other sacrifices, making them well worth your consideration." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
  • "The real bottom line, as opposed to the one on the window sticker? It's a blast to drive." -- The Boston Globe (2009)

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Other Cars to Consider

If a powerful engine and agile handling are important to you, but you need more interior space, consider the Audi A3. Reviewer’s like its strong base engine and smooth manual and automatic transmissions. The A3 even offers a turbodiesel engine, which has some of the highest fuel economy ratings in the class. The A3 has seatbelts for five, as opposed to the 1-Series’ four, and has a lot more cargo space.

The Volkswagen GTI is less expensive than the 1-Series, and as a hatchback, it has more cargo space. The GTI also seats five, and auto writers are impressed that adults can sit in the rear row comfortably. The GTI only offers one turbocharged engine, but reviewers like the amount of power it provides, even though it isn’t the strongest engine in the class. The GTI also has better fuel economy ratings than the 1-Series.

Compare the 1-Series, A3 and GTI »

Details: 2013 BMW 1-Series

The rear-wheel drive 2013 BMW 1-Series is available as a coupe or convertible. Both body styles are available in 128i, 135i and 135is trims, which differentiate the available engines. The 135is is new. There are three inline six-cylinder engines available, two of which are turbocharged. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on all trims, and there are two automatic transmissions available, depending on engine. The base model comes with interior features like a USB adapter, HD Radio and Bluetooth. Infotainment and navigation systems are available with upgrades. The 1-Series hasn’t changed much since 2008, so this overview uses applicable research and reviews from 2008 to 2013.

See the full 2013 BMW 1-Series specs »

Review Last Updated: 5/19/14

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