1 Series

Model Overview

The BMW 1 Series is a small family car produced by the German automaker BMW since 2004, when it replaced the BMW 3 Series Compact range as the smallest in the BMW range.

1 Series BMW

“The most important thing is that cars are fun.
If your car isn’t, you’ve obviously got the wrong car.”

First generation E81/E82/E87/E88 models

After the success of the 3 Series Compact (based on the E36 and E46) selling over 570,000 units in its 11 years on sale, BMW decided to give the replacement a separate identity with using the nomenclature of 1 Series. The first generation consists of the E81 (3-door hatchback), E82 ( 2-door coupe), E87 (5-door hatchback) and E88 (2-door convertible). These are collectively known/referred to as the E8x.

The new 1 Series featured a rear-wheel drive layout with a longitudinally-mounted engine, as this was mainly due to being developed alongside the E90 3 Series. The E8x shares approximately 60% of components with the E90 (mainly the oily bits), engines available were four-cylinder turbo-diesel, four- and six-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol, and six-cylinder turbocharged petrol.

Launched at the Paris Motor Show in September 2004, initially in the E87 five-door hatchback body style only, with 116i, 120i, 118d and 120d versions. Sales to the end of 2006 saw E87 sales of just over 340,000 units. In early 2007, the E87 received an LCI facelift including engine changes such as adding 125i, 135i and 123d variants, revised bumpers and interior changes, and the E81 three-door hatchback was introduced.

In late 2007 the E82 couple and E88 convertible were unveiled. Multiple engines were available from 118i and 118d through to 135i and 123d. Peak sales for the E8x model occurred in the following year of 2008 with 225,095 units sold; the E87 accounting for just over half of this number.

In 2011 the E82 coupé and E88 convertible models received their LCI facelift with the usual changes to lights, bumpers and interior. The 1 Series M coupé, AKA the 1M, was also released with the engine from the E89 Z4 along with rear suspension, limited slip differential and brakes from the E92 M3. Total production was just over 6300.

Total production for all E8x models was just over 1.5 million between 2004 and 2012.

Second generation F20/F21 models

Again, the initial model launched was the five-door hatchback, this time at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, known as the F20. Initially available with two petrol (116i and 118i), and three diesel (116d, 118d and 120d) variants – all four cylinders, and it retained its rear-wheel drive layout.

2012 saw the introduction of the three-door hatchback, the F21, along with an expanded choice of engines across both models: 114i, 125i, 114d, 116d EfficientDynamics and 125d, along with the introduction of the M135i which featured a turbocharged inline straight-six with power of 315 bhp and 332 lb/ft of torque. It was also was available with the all-wheel drive xDrive system, as was the 120d.

Late 2013 saw the production commence of a coupe (F22) and convertible (F23) versions, but were labelled as the 2 Series.

An LCI midlife facelift came along in 2015 with the usual engine changes/upgrades. Most received a small uplift in power, however, the 114i was dropped and both the 116i and 118i reducing to three cylinders, both with around a 20% drop in power. Similarly, the 114d and 116d changed to three cylinders, however all diesel engines received an uplift in power. Cosmetic external changes were also made to the bumpers and lights. The M135i received a token 7 bhp increase in power, but was replaced by the M140 in 2016, producing 335 bhp and 369 lb/ft of torque.

During 2017, there were further changes made including a revised dashboard and instruments, and the Shadow trim levels were introduced featuring a black kidney grille and LED headlight inserts, as well as darkened LED taillights.

The F21 was used in motorsport and in 2018 a 125i M Sport won the British Touring Car Championship drivers’ and manufacturers’ championship. Other accolades included a Golden Steering Wheel award from Bild am Sonntag magazine in 2011, and What Car? magazine winner of the best hot hatch over £25,000 for the M140i in 2017.

Production of the F20/21 from 2012 to late 2019, when it was replaced by the third generation F40, was around 1.3 million units – a similar number to the first generation E8x. The most in a single year being 226,839 in 2012, its first full year of production.

Third generation F40 model

The third generation, unlike the previous two, uses a front-wheel drive configuration and is only available as a five-door hatchback. A China-only four-door saloon (F52) was available from 2017 to 2024. It premiered at the 2019 Frankfurt Auto Show and is built on the UKL2 platform, which it shares with the various 2 Series versions, along with all post-2014 MINI variants (some on the smaller UKL1 platform). This meaning all engines are now three- or four-cylinder and transversely mounted.

Although the F40 1 Series’ external dimensions are similar to its predecessors’, due to the engine configuration, leg and headroom has increased, along with boot capacity. It is also up to 30kg lighter due to the increased use of aluminium.

Initially launched in 118i and M135i petrol versions, along with 116d, 118d and 120d diesel versions, 116i and 120i versions followed in 2020. Among the standard features on the range-topping 302 bhp M135i are larger M Sport brakes, a limited slip differential (front axle), as well as xDrive all-wheel drive. Also, in late 2020, the 128ti was launched as a Golf GTI-beater with 261 bhp.

Most models come with a manual six-speed gearbox, upgradable to either a seven- or eight-speed automatic; the 120i coming with a seven-speed automatic, and the 128ti and M135i both with an eight-speed automatic.

October 2021 saw the revealing of an updated M135i, with changes to the suspension for more grip. This was not seen as an LCI update as they were only applicable to one trim level and did not include any cosmetic changes.

1 Series Events

1 Series News

Technical material and resources

1 Series Classifieds

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Auction Results

BMW 1 Series M Coupé (E82)



Robert Nelson

Specification List

Models in register:

First generation: E81/E82/E87/E88 (2004–2011)

Second generation: F20/F21 (2011–2019)

Third generation: F40 (2019–present)

Oldest models: 2004 starting with the 1 Series SE, followed by the M Sport approximately 6 months later

Newest models: F40 which is the current model, the M135i xDrive is the current top of the range

Rarest specific model: I’d say the 1M is a rare beast, with only 6347 units sold worldwide, and only 450 UK spec cars. I think something like a 130i SE would be very rare as who would spec a 3.0i hot hatch and make it look like a bog standard one

Smallest engine: 1.5 L B37 I3-T (diesel) & 1.5 L B38 I3-T (petrol)

Largest engine: 2.0 L B47 I4-T (diesel) & 2.0 L B48 I4-T (petrol)

Fact: The 1 series was originally designed to replace the BMW Compact which came in E36 and E46 guises. The 1 Series accounted for 30% of the sales worldwide in the late 2000s with the X3 taking over at the moment and the i Division selling well too

Most difficult repair job: Most faults on these cars are water pumps, vanos issues and high-pressure fuel pumps. The n47 Diesel engine had chains snapping and the cars have had recalls for battery cables and diesel particulate filters. Most of the engine is fairly easy to get to so can be good cars for wannabe mechanics