$7,383 - $9,866

2011 BMW 1-Series Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 BMW 1-Series was new.


Performance: 9.1

If you buy a 1-Series, you're probably buying it for its performance credentials. Reviewers say the 1-Series has plenty of engine power, a smooth-as-silk transmission, precise cornering and confident braking. New for 2011, is a dual-clutch automated manual that adds to the 1-Series' performance credentials. The main downside is that the 1-Series falls short of the mark 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 128i and 135i 1-Series models have enough power to outpace most of their classmates. However, that power comes at the expense of good gas mileage.

All 1-Series models come with the 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that you'll find in the 3-Series. The 128i makes 230 horsepower, while the 135i makes 300 horsepower.

A six-speed manual transmission comes standard on all models, although a six-speed automatic is available.  Newly available for 2011 is a dual-clutch automated manual. Reviewers are impressed with this transmission, which is only available on the 135i. The EPA estimates that the 128i coupe with a manual transmission gets 18/28 mpg city/highway. The 135i coupe with the manual transmission gets 18/25 mpg, which is low for the class.

  • "The close-ratio, seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox feels far better than the conventional autobox it replaces, which itself was a swell-enough automatic." -- 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
  • "The seven-speed DCT gearbox rips off very quick, thrusty upshifts in manual mode while the engine begs for more. Or you can put the gear lever in Sport mode and let the transmission do its thing -- which it does almost telepathically -- while you concentrate on the other controls and transferring the nimble car's weight from side to side, turning in fast laps the whole time." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "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 more like a sports car than a compact. That said, some reviewers note that the larger wheels, which are part of the M Sport Package, have a negative effect on ride quality. 

  • "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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