The new 2008 BMW 1-Series easily lives up to BMW's sporty performance legacy, and the car moves very quickly, especially with the more powerful twin-turbo 3.0-liter engine found in the BMW 2008 135i variant.
Motivating the all-new BMW 1-Series is either a 230-hp engine on the 128i models or a similarly sized twin-turbo inline-6 rated at 306 hp in the 135i. Regardless of trim a six-speed stick-shift is the standard gearbox, while a 6-speed automatic that includes manual shifting is optional.
While the engine on the 128i is decently powerful, it is asked to move a car that weighs upward of 3,500 pounds. Despite the car's heft, Car and Driver writes that it found the 1-Series to be "pretty quick, taking an estimated 6.4 seconds for the 0-to-60-mph run equipped with the fluid six-speed manual." Also, it is worth noting that the Car and Driver reviewers were driving the BMW 2008 128i Convertible, which is significantly heavier than the 128i Coupe. For those seeking out a serious performance car, the 135i features a twin-turbocharged inline-6 that, per reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, moves the car to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds. Road & Track writes that the 135i in particular "has amazing pulling power" and can give "new meaning to the term 'pocket rocket.'" Popular Mechanics also notes that "the flip side of all that high performance is usually poor fuel economy. Not here: BMW estimates 30 mpg on the highway." The official government fuel economy estimates for the 1-Series come in at 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway on the 128i and the 135i is rated at 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.
Aside from the impressive engine performance, the 2008 BMW 1-Series also sports impressive handling, even in the 1-Series convertible. Popular Mechanics finds that, on a race course, "the steering, typical of BMW, [is] sharp and quick to react." ConsumerGuide agrees, saying that "BMW's legendary handling capability carries over to the 1-Series." They say that even the base model "exhibits little body lean in fast turns." Edmunds heaps on more praise, saying that "body roll is minimal, and overall grip on models fitted with the sport package is superb." All models feature exceptional brakes that hold up well under heavy use. The folks at Kelley Blue Book raved about the "huge front brakes that not only slow the small coupe with ease but also look great" when fitted to the 135i.
The 1-Series' ride quality depends on trim level and options, but it's not terribly surprising. In full sport trim, the 135i delivers a firm ride compared to a softer base 128i. ConsumerGuide says that "the tested 128i convertible [rides] surprisingly well, easily soaking up smaller road blemishes and pavement heaves." However, selecting the 135i delivers a "sport suspension and 18-inch tires, a combination that reacts much more sharply to bad pavement, yet never feels harsh."