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Used car: BMW 1 Series – 2004-on

BMW was right to anticipate a place in the market for its 1 Series, launched in 2004. Sales have been strong as younger customers take their first step on the BMW ladder.

The range was boosted this year with a range of fuel-saving measures to woo eco-conscious buyers – up to 60mpg is offered on diesel models while all four-cylinder engines are also more powerful, as well as more efficient.

Drive and performance
The 1.6 petrol needs to be worked hard to get the best from it. The two diesels, 118d and 120d, are similarly impressive.

Most engines are upgraded from May with improvements in performance, perhaps the most notable being the 118d, producing 143bhp from 122bhp on the earlier models, and the 120d, with 177bhp instead of 163bhp.

The range-topper is the 265bhp 130i. Its lightweight six-cylinder engine sounds glorious as it revs up to its 7,000rpm red line. It is limited to 155mph.

The rear-wheel drive 1 Series is as much a driver’s car as larger BMWs. It’s well-balanced, corners well and has traction control that can be switched off. The steering is excellent – well weighted in corners, with plenty of feedback.

The driving position is quite low, adding to the sporty appeal of the 1 Series. The steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake, which makes finding a comfortable driving position easy.

There’s not really enough room for three adults in the rear, and it’s short on head and legroom.

The back is also quite tricky to access, because of a high sill. You have to choose ES models or higher for air conditioning. Electric rear windows are optional on all below 120i and 120d.

Top five-star crash test rating from Euro NCAP. Systems used on larger BMWs are included in the 1 Series. ABS brakes, dynamic stability control, dynamic traction control, dynamic brake control and cornering brake control are all standard. Six airbags on all cars.

On the forecourt

Fast movers
BMW 130i M Sport
Small but packs a punch: to 60mph in 5.9 sec.
Trade: 0555-0707: £15,600-£20,900. Retail: 0555-0707: £17,500-£23,900

BMW 120d
Hot hatch performance and 50mpg.
Trade: 0454-0707: £11,000-£19,350. Retail: 0454-0707: £12,700-£22,400

In the workshop
Two recalls. First in 2004 to re-fit the rear axle arms and a second in 2006 to fix the possibility of a leaking brake servo.

Parker's buyers' lines

“Paid a high price for extras which come as standard on most other cars.”

“Not cheap but some good nearly new deals from BMW dealers.”

“Nothing short of superb!”

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