- Acceleration (135i)
- Handling and rear-wheel-drive poise
- Excellent steering
- Simple, driver-oriented feel
- Not very comfortable
- Not as attractive as BMW's other cars
- Almost as big and heavy as a 3-Series
- Optional iDrive interface needs improvement
Has the 3-Series become too portly, expensive, and upscale? If you think so, the 2010 BMW 1-Series might make you happier. However, keep in mind that not everyone's a fan of the appearance, and iDrive is still lacking.
The 2010 BMW 1-Series in some ways represents BMW at its best: offering simple driving enjoyment in a compact car that looks back to the much-loved BMW 2002 from the 1970s. Over the years, BMW's 3-Series line has evolved and increased in size and weight to the point that BMW filled the gap at the bottom of the range with the 1-Series coupe and convertible.
The 1-Series shares the long hood and short deck of the 3-Series, but it's smaller. Its 104.7-inch wheelbase is 4 inches shorter than the 3-Series Coupe, but its truncated shape is shy of its bigger sibling by half a foot. Overall width is almost 3 inches narrower. The overall effect is that the 1-Series is a bit abbreviated, and some might not think that its proportions are quite as "right" as those of the 3-Series.
Two models are offered for each body style—the 128i and the 135i—and both are available with either a six-speed manual or an automatic gearbox. The main difference between the two models is the engine; the 128i uses a non-turbo 230-horsepower version of the 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder, while the 135i provides a more ample 300 hp from its twin-turbo version of the 3.0-liter six. The 2010 BMW 1-Series handles well and steers beautifully, and it feels positively like a sports car.
Inside, the front dimensions are satisfactorily generous. Whether as a coupe or convertible, the 1-Series is more of a 2+2 than a vehicle with a full backseat. But in a nod to practicality, the rear seat of the 2010 1-Series includes both a pass-through and 60/40 split-folding access to the trunk. The compact folding mechanism of the convertible's soft top even ensures that there is usable trunk space with the top down. Interior accommodations in the 2010 BMW 1-Series are what you've come to expect from BMW of late: less austere and more attractive while remaining easy to use, with the notable exception of iDrive. The revised iDrive software is better than before, but it remains stifling at first encounter and often counterintuitive with experience. The interface, however, now communicates directly with USB-based MP3 players. All other major controls make perfect sense and are well positioned for easy use and/or viewing.
Safety-wise, both the IIHS and NHTSA have yet to crash-test the 2010 BMW 1-Series. However, across the pond the European New Car Assessment Program gives the 1-Series a five-star vehicle safety rating in crash tests. BMW also includes a host of standard safety features, such as airbags, ABS, traction control, and an electronic stability control system.
The 2010 BMW 1-Series models come about as well-equipped as you might expect for a base-model BMW; keyless entry, power accessories, and steering-wheel controls are all included, and a navigation system is optional. For 2010, the 128i Coupe model loses its standard sunroof, but BMW sweetens the deal by adding standard HD Radio capability to the tuner.