BMW 1 Series Convertible

The Essentials

  • Price from £24,255
  • What Car? says: 3 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 58.9mpg
  • What is it? A soft-top version of the previous-generation 1 Series hatchback, so it handles well, but isn't as practical as some rivals

Great

  • Feels good to drive even when the sun's not shining
  • Quality controls let you know you're in a prestige car
  • Outstanding fuel economy

Gripes

  • The initial outlay could stretch your purse a bit too far
  • Some interior plastic areas fall short on quality
  • The usability of the rear seats is questionable at best
  • Drive

    Great to drive in all conditions, just feels a little heavier than the coupe

  • Inside

    Quality buttons and controls, and plenty of seating adjustment

  • Safety

    Every safety and security aid you could ask for apart from a solid roof

  • Reliability

    BMW has a good recent record of reliability and the 1 Series feels solid

  • Space

    Uncomfortable rear passenger area contrasts with decent space up front

  • Standard and extras

    Not the most expansive equipment list but every model has the essentials

  • What's it like to drive?

    If you avoid the M Sport models, the 1 Series Coupe rides pretty well, and its steering provides good feedback and body roll is well controlled.
    Just don't expect good refinement; you can often hear road noise coursing through the wheelarches and wind noise builds up around the door mirrors at motorway speeds.
    The 120d diesel is the pick of the engine range, combining gutsy performance with over 55mpg. By contrast, the 125i petrol is best avoided because it needs to be revved hard and averages just 34.0mpg.

  • What's it like inside?

    Given the 1 Series Convertible's compact dimensions, it's hardly surprising that the rear seats aren't especially roomy. There are only two of them and even kids will find their knees are pressed up against the back of the front seats.
    Things are better farther forward, where the basic driving position is spot-on and there's a good range of adjustment, although the standard manual seat controls are very fiddly.
    The logically arranged buttons and switches feel almost as classy as those in bigger BMW's, but many of the plastic panels are disappointingly hard to the touch.
    The fabric roof takes 22 seconds to retract - more than twice as long as the roof of the rival Audi A3 Cabriolet - and when it's down it eats into the modest-sized boot.

  • How reliable is it?

    While the 1 Series Convertible wasn't included in the last JD Power customer satisfaction survey, the mechanically identical hatchback was rated above average for reliability.
    The hatchback also achieved the maximum five-star rating for adult occupant protection in Euro NCAP crash tests, although it managed only three out of five for child safety.
    All 1 Series Convertibles come with front and side airbags, and an electronic stability control system that helps you regain control if the car starts to slide.

  • Should I buy one?

    The 1 Series Convertible is enjoyable to drive and it's available with some fine diesel engines. However, it's not very practical, even by drop-top standards, and the interior quality is a bit disappointing. We'd look elsewhere or wait for the next generation model.