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#7

in 2012 Upscale Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $22,150 - $31,008
Original MSRP: $31,200 - $44,100
MPG: 18 City / 28 Hwy
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2012 BMW 1-Series Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

If you’re looking for one of the top performers in the class, the BMW 1-Series is among your best bests. It has a powerful base inline-six engine and a turbo charged option. Test drivers say its handling capabilities are sports car-like. Simply stated, this vehicle is fun to drive.

  • "The lesson with the 135i DCT (and all BMWs with a dual-clutch automatic) is that there's now even less shame in paying more to get your Bimmer with one less pedal." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "It does a good job of providing driving excitement without demanding Grand Prix racing competence from the driver." -- The Washington Post
  • "On its standard 16-inch tires, the 128i convertible rides surprisingly well, easily soaking up smaller road blemishes and pavement heaves. It feels impressively stiff, with little cowl shake over bumps. At the other extreme, the 135i comes standard with a sport suspension and 18-inch tires, a combination that reacts much more sharply to bad pavement, yet never feels harsh." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The ride of the 1 Series isn't as refined as that of a 3 Series, either, but it's quite good relative to rivals." -- Edmunds
  • "Those who are familiar with BMW's approach to suspension tuning will immediately feel at home in the 1 Series. Goldilocks herself would approve of the steering feel, which is neither too firm nor too light and offers precise control of the front wheels, and we think the 1 Series will deliver all the driving enjoyment and performance balance BMW drivers have come to expect." -- Kelley Blue Book

Acceleration and Power

Test drivers rave about the amount of power available on the 2012 BMW 1-Series, which they consider one of the most fun to drive upscale small cars on the market. However, this performance comes at a premium. The 128i – the base model – starts at about $31,000, and the more powerful 135i starts at about $39,100. Plus, these models take premium gasoline and have some of the lowest fuel economy ratings in the class, which means you’ll pay a lot in fuel each year. For example, if you choose the Audi A3 with an automatic transmission, you could save about $330 in annual fuel costs.

The 128i comes with a 3.0-liter inline-six engine that produces 230 horsepower and 200 pound feet of torque. The 135i is the next step up it has a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six engine that makes 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque.

The 2012 BMW 1-Series’ stellar performance causes fuel economy ratings to plummet. According to the EPA, the 128i coupe averages 18/28 mpg city/highway, while the 135i averages up to 20/28 mpg.

  • "The close-ratio, seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox feels far better than the conventional autobox it replaces, which itself was a swell-enough automatic." -- Car and Driver
  • "If you're looking at the 1 Series convertible primarily as a car for Sunday drives, the 230-hp, 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine in the 128i should provide more than enough thrust. The inline design of the engine yields impressive smoothness, and the engine also provides quite a bit of low-end power that's appreciated in city driving." -- Cars.com
  • "The 230-horsepower engine in the 128i is no slouch, but with 300 horsepower the twin-turbocharged engine in the 135i is the real star. It's the same engine used in the larger, heavier 3 Series and in the smaller 135i, it delivers great power to pass and a swift zero-to-60-mph time of 5.3 seconds." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Even the base 128i's naturally aspirated inline-6 is a gem of an engine, gliding from idle to redline on a smooth wave of turbine-like power. The 135's turbocharged inline-6 engine cranks up the power while retaining every bit of that characteristic smoothness. Although the 135i with the top-of-the-line powertrain gets most of the attention, the 128i is still plenty of fun to drive, particularly with the manual transmission coupled to its free-revving six." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

The 1-Series shines when it comes to handling and braking. Test drivers report that the base 128i has precise steering and strong brakes. You can upgrade to the 135i model, which also receives outstanding reviews for crisp steering and agility, but if you don’t want to pay about $39,000, the 128i should suit you just fine, especially if you’re just driving to and from the office.

  • "BMW's legendary handling capability carries over to the 1-Series. Even the 128i convertible with the base suspension and 16-inch tires exhibits little body lean in fast turns, with fine steering and brake feel. 135i coupes up the ante with their standard sport suspension and 18-inch tires, resulting in crisp steering, flat cornering, and sports-car agility." -- Consumer Guide
  • "It'll take a real purpose-built sporting machine to outrun the 2011 BMW 1 Series on a winding road. Though some hard-core drivers might find that the car's handling isn't as rewarding as other BMWs when driven enthusiastically, the vast majority of owners will find joy in the responsive steering, excellent body control and great outward visibility." -- Edmunds
  • "The brakes, which are best described as large and in charge, are always on their game." -- Motor Trend

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