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Average User Score
4.5 ⁄ 5 stars
Based on 4 reviews
2010 BMW 1 Series Overview
Overall User Score
Based on 4 reviews
Despite initially lackluster reviews, the BMW 1 Series has managed to win over critics with its low weight, high agility, and traditional front-engine, rear-wheel-drive (RWD) enthusiast design. In fact, the 1 Series has become the second-best-selling vehicle in BMW’s lineup, representing almost 20% of 2008 sales. Two-door coupe and convertible configurations are available in two trims, the 128i and 135i, with naturally aspirated and turbocharged versions of BMW's 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine, respectively – the same ones that power the 3 Series. Either trim comes with a choice of a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, and all come standard with BMW's Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with Dynamic Traction Control.
The 128i’s 3.0-liter inline six produces a robust 230 hp, peaking at 6,500 rpm and 200 lb-ft of torque, which wait until 2,750 rpm to show up. Still, this is enough to propel the 128i to 60 mph in around 6.1 seconds in a manually equipped Coupe and 7 seconds flat for an automatic equipped Convertible, according to BMW. That said, Car and Driver’s figures for the 135i’s acceleration bested BMW’s officially released stats by almost a half-second, so adjust at your whim. Fuel economy is estimated by the EPA at 18/28 mpg with either transmission, although the heavier convertible sacrifices 1 mpg in highway driving and all 1 Series trims require premium-grade gasoline.
The twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six in the 135i offers an increasingly spirited experience over the already competent 128i. With 300 hp at 5,800 rpm and 300 lb-ft of torque coming in at an incredibly accessible 1,400 rpm, BMW says a manual-equipped Coupe will sprint to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds – although as mentioned previously, Car and Driver did the same jaunt in just 4.7 seconds. Fuel economy is hardly penalized over the 128i's, with 18/25 for the 135i coupe with either manual or automatic. Both transmissions have been praised for precise and smooth action, even from the two manual-override choices in the automatic by way of either the console-mounted lever or steering-wheel paddle shifters.
The 1 Series’ aluminum double-pivot front suspension and five-link fully independent rear suspension are composed of lightweight steel taken directly from the 3 Series and provide a comfortable and competent ride that avoids the harshness that could so easily plague a smaller performance-inspired vehicle. Even the sport suspension and larger 18-inch wheels of the 135i remain composed, although the optional sport package for the 128i, which adds a sport suspension, 17-inch wheels, sport bucket seats and a higher top speed, can create a ride that is too stiff for some. 128i Convertibles, with their higher curb weight and 16-inch wheels, offer the most comfortable ride of the group, although they still offer handling that rivals class averages.
Interior materials and design is on-par with what has come to be expected from BMW, with this entry-level vehicle avoiding entry-level shortcomings. Even the iDrive system has been improved here, although further consolidation and perfection would be welcomed. A sunroof is optional on the 128i Coupe and standard on the 135i. A Premium Package will add leather upholstery, 8-way power for the front seats, a memory system for the driver’s seat and power-folding mirrors, wood interior trim, and more, while a Cold Weather Package offers heated front seats and steering wheel, along with headlight washers.
In all, the BMW 1 Series has gone from maligned stepchild to welcome re-invention of what made BMW great in the first place. It’s a driver’s car with little of the superfluous add-ons that take away from the driving experience yet have become commonplace on feature lists in the past two decades. BMW has wandered far from where it was when the venerated BMW 2002 first showed us all what an enthusiast’s sport sedan could be, but the 1 Series shows us that journey hasn’t been on a one-way street.
A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.