$9,966 - $15,928

2013 BMW 1-Series Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 BMW 1-Series was new.


Performance: 8.9

If you’re looking for one of the top performers in the class, auto writers think the 2013 BMW 1-Series needs to be on your list. They say that even the base engine is powerful, and that the optional turbocharged engines outperform any other engine in the class. The 1-Series also receives excellent reviews for its responsive manual transmission, nimble handling and sharp steering.

  • "On its standard 16-inch tires, the 128i convertible rides surprisingly well, easily soaking up smaller road blemishes and pavement heaves. It feels impressively stiff, with little cowl shake over bumps. 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." --Consumer Guide (2012)
  • "The lesson with the 135i DCT (and all BMWs with a dual-clutch automatic) is that there's now even less shame in paying more to get your Bimmer with one less pedal." -- Automobile Magazine (2011)
  • "It is the kind of car loved by people who love driving -- rear-wheel drive, diminutive yet gifted with power (in this case, 300 horsepower delivered by an inline six-cylinder engine) and wonderfully agile on surfaces such as Angola Road here, which twists, turns, dips, disappears and reappears around curves." -- The Washington Post (2009)

Acceleration and Power

The rear-wheel drive BMW 1-Series offers three 3.0-liter six-cylinder engines. The base engine, which is available on the 128i, makes 230 horsepower. The turbocharged engine in the 135i makes 300 horsepower. The 135is, which is new for the 2013 model year, has a turbocharged engine that produces 320 horsepower. Each model has a standard six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic is optional on the base model, and a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual is optional with the turbocharged engines. With the automatic transmission, the base model averages 18/28 mpg city/highway, according to the EPA. Those ratings are low for the class.

Test drivers are very impressed with the BMW 1-Series’ engines. They even say that the 128i’s engine has plenty of power and is smooth. They also like the 135i’s engine because it delivers immediate power when they step on the gas pedal. Reviewers don’t comment on the transmissions as much, but one says both the manual and automatic transmissions deliver good acceleration. In particular, Consumer Guide reports that the manual shifter is very accurate and that the clutch is easy to use.

  • "The inline-6-cylinder engine is becoming a rarity (most sixes today are Vs) because their height and length make them tricky to package. But that configuration is perfectly balanced, and there is still nothing quite like the crisp, velvety, free-revving feel and sound of a BMW straight-6." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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. BMW says manual-transmission 135i coupes do 5.1 seconds 0-60, which is both quick and believable. The manual transmission has precise shift action and an easily modulated clutch." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
  • "No fancy transmission here, just a plain-Jane, automatic augmented with paddle shifters. And BMW may have a point: With an engine and chassis so responsive, no fancy transmission is needed. Step on it and the 135i goes." -- Motor Trend (2008)
  • "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 (2008)

Handling and Braking

The 1-Series shines when it comes to handling and braking. Test drivers report that the 1-Series has strong brakes. Critics also say the 1-Series has balanced handling with little body lean. They also like the 1-Series’ steering, which they say is responsive.

  • "BMW's legendary handling capability carries over to the 1-Series. Even the 128i convertible with the base suspension and 16-inch tires exhibits little body lean in fast turns, with fine steering and brake feel. 135i coupes up the ante with their standard sport suspension and 18-inch tires, resulting in crisp steering, flat cornering, and sports-car agility." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The brakes, which are best described as large and in charge, are always on their game." -- Motor Trend (2008)
  • "Body roll is minimal. …" -- Car and Driver (2008)
  • "BMWs are known for exceptional handling, and the 1 Series continues that legacy. The rear-wheel-drive 128i rewards the driver with nicely balanced cornering performance and a chassis that's entirely comfortable powering out of a turn. Contributing to the sporty driving experience is the steering system, which offers good feedback and requires a little muscle to steer the car." -- Cars.com (2008)

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