$6,358 - $9,136

2010 BMW 1-Series Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2010 BMW 1-Series was new.


Performance: 9.0

Performance is where the 2010 BMW 1-Series excels. Reviewers say the 1-Series is a brilliant performer, with plenty of engine power, a smooth-as-silk transmission, precise cornering and confident braking. Nonetheless, for all of this impressive performance, the 1-Series falls short when it comes to fuel economy.

  • "Beautifully balanced and rewarding handling complement smooth power." -- Car and Driver
  • "We found the steering, cornering, and braking performance of the BMW 135i to be exemplary, perfectly matched to the huge acceleration power of the engine." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Both engines emit only a muffled snarl under acceleration and are seldom heard in normal cruising. Wind and road noise are well checked, with coarse-surface tire hum more noticed with the 135i coupe's standard 18-inch performance tires and the 128i's optional 17-inch run-flats. Top down, the convertible requires raised voices in order to carry on a conversation at highway speeds." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Sports car performance with coupe practicality." -- Edmunds
  • "It does a good job of providing driving excitement without demanding Grand Prix racing competence from the driver." -- The Washington Post

Acceleration and Power

Auto experts report that both the 128i and 135i 1-Series models have enough power to outpace most of the class. However, that power comes at the expense of good gas mileage.

All 1-Series models come with the same 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that you'll find in the 3-series. That said, while the 128i makes an impressive 230 horsepower, the 135i makes 300 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission comes standard on all models, although a six-speed automatic is available.

The EPA has not yet rated the new 2010 1-Series, but it rated the 2009 model at an average of 18/28 mpg city/highway. The 135i coupe with the manual transmission gets the lowest rating of 17/25 mpg. If fuel economy is important to you, check out the Volkswagen GTI. It has the highest fuel economy of any car in its class (21/31 mpg city/highway), but doesn't sacrifice performance.

  • "The 135i is lightning fast, especially for the money." -- Car and Driver
  • "Even in heavier convertible form and with the automatic transmission, 128i provides spirited acceleration worthy of the class. The turbocharged 135i is noticeably stronger off the line and in passing maneuvers, though a small amount of turbo lag delays take offs." -- Consumer Guide
  • "A better combination of power and economy is called for these days." -- Boston Globe
  • "If you're looking at the 1 Series convertible primarily as a car for Sunday drives, the 230-hp, 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine in the 128i should provide more than enough thrust. The inline design of the engine yields impressive smoothness, and the engine also provides quite a bit of low-end power that's appreciated in city driving." -- Cars.com

Handling and Braking

The 1-Series' cornering, steering and braking abilities are sharp and well-balanced, making it feel like a sports car. That said, some reviewers note that the larger wheels that are part of the Sport Package have a negative effect on ride quality in the 128i, so you should definitely test it out before you decide to spend the extra money.

  • "Goldilocks herself would approve of the steering feel, which is neither too firm nor too light and offers precise control of the front wheels, and we think the 1 Series will deliver all the driving enjoyment and performance balance BMW drivers have come to expect." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "On its standard 16-inch tires, the tested 128i convertible rode surprisingly well, easily soaking up smaller road blemishes and pavement heaves. At the other extreme, the 135i comes standard with a sport suspension and 18-inch tires, a combination that reacts much more sharply to bad pavement, yet never feels harsh. Sport Package for 128i includes a sport suspension and 17-inch wheels on run-flat tires. This combination has a detrimental impact on ride quality. Try before you buy." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Beautifully balanced and rewarding handling complement smooth power." -- Car and Driver
  • "The brakes, which are best described as large and in charge, are always on their game." -- Motor Trend

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