Road Test Review: BMW 1 Series M Sport

Independent review by Maxine Ashford

5-minute read

Red BMW 118i M Sport Exterior Rear Static in Field

Road Test: BMW 1 Series M Sport

Explore the key features of the BMW 1 Series M Sport in our expert road test review

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The BMW 1 Series is a smart and good to drive hatchback, in M Sport spec it offers even more sophistication and dynamism.


  • Good to drive
  • Top-quality technology
  • Dynamic design
  • Sporty feel
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BMW’s latest 1 Series boasts a sharper new look, a more spacious cabin and lots of cutting edge on-board technology, making it a compact family car with real attitude.

The 5-door hatchback is available in a choice of petrol or diesel engines, manual or automatic transmissions and even the option of all-wheel drive.

Design and Practicality

This third generation car boasts a more aggressive look, especially in M Sport guise with a larger kidney grille with the kidney shapes merging in the middle for the first time, a shorter bonnet, a more pronounced front end and upgraded lights.

An optional M Sport Pro pack adds M Sport brakes with blue calipers, 18-inch Orbit Grey alloys, M Sport seat belts and an M Sport spoiler.

When it comes to practicality, the cabin boasts extra space inside the latest car, especially for back seat passengers who are treated to more leg room. And the boot is practical too with a 20-litre larger capacity. This means it can swallow 380 litres of kit, increasing to 1,200 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped down.

Equipment and Technology

The interior is generously equipped with power-adjustable Black Dakota leather sports seats with memory settings, a leather-wrapped sports steering wheel, an 8.8-inch touchscreen and snazzy new-look TFT screen behind the wheel.

Creature comforts are plentiful and include a head-up display (as part of an optional pack), Harman Kardon audio system, Bluetooth, smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay (plus Android Auto on BMWs with Operating System 7), a DAB radio, heated seats and steering wheel, plus plenty more besides.

Accessing the many on-board systems is simple via an iDrive controller dial, steering wheel buttons, voice control and even gesture control that means waving your hand around beneath the rearview mirror to lower the volume on the radio or accept an incoming call. Quirky stuff.

And as one would expect, the 1 Series is packed with safety systems that helped it achieve a maximum five stars when tested for its Euro NCAP rating.

On top of the standard features, our test car had a Technology Pack that added the head-up display, park distance control, high beam assistant, adaptive LED headlights and a parking assistant that will automatically help park the car.

Engine and Performance

We selected the 118i M Sport version, which was powered by a 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engine mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. The latest powertrain, delivers 138bhp (an increase over the outgoing car) and 162lb ft of torque. It is also cleaner and more efficient, with CO2 emissions cut by 29g/km.

It can sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 8.5 seconds, with a top speed of 132mph. And according to official figures, under stricter WLTP testing, the car can deliver up to 47.1mpg.

Out on the open road, the car is nicely balanced and can be pushed on into tight bends with confidence.
Maxine Ashford

There is ample power on tap from the 3-cylinder engine and the steering is well weighted with plenty of feedback.

The 1 Series is no longer rear-wheel drive, which will be greeted with mixed views from driving purists, but the front-wheel drive car is beautifully poised and shows a real keenness to perform, especially on the quieter country lanes.

There are drive modes called Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport that change the responses of the car with Sport being the most engaging. But with its firm M Sport suspension, which is lowered by 10mm, expect to feel some bumps and dips along the way.


All in all, the latest 1 Series oozes class and offers great ride and handling in a compact hatchback that’s very easy on the eye and also competitively priced.

Being an M Sport adds in additional flair and style, which further complements the 1 Series nicely.