More than a decade into its life, the 1 Series remains an enigma – for BMW, you suspect, every bit as much as for the car-buying public.

The idea of a compact, rear-drive alternative to the hatchback mainstream is as appealing now as it was in 2004, but BMW’s execution retains its original flaws: a shortage of space, a deficit of truly premium cabin ambience and a dynamic repertoire that falls frustratingly between two stalls.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The 116d is neither as rounded nor as refined as its most polished rivals

The 116d is neither as rounded nor as refined as its most polished rivals, nor is it the dynamic junior BMW that the company deserves.

You can appreciate why Munich is reaching for the reset button, but it has done well to put the 116d on such a sound footing on paper. This car’s new engine, and the performance, fuel economy and emissions it grants are credit-worthy, as is the monstrous BMW M140i, but the rest of car simply isn’t.

The next 1 Series will need to leave much more than its propshaft behind if it’s going to be much better.

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