91: BMW 1 Series – Still the best premium hatchback you can buy

Top 100 cars for 2019: Better be quick as BMW will be replacing it soon with a front-wheel drive model

BMW 1 Series: Space inside is not as good as what you’d get in a Mercedes A-Class, or Audi A3, but it’s just about big enough to make it a practical family car

BMW 1 Series: Space inside is not as good as what you’d get in a Mercedes A-Class, or Audi A3, but it’s just about big enough to make it a practical family car

 

The ugly duckling’s lines have softened with time, and with the fact that thanks to its rear-wheel drive chassis, the BMW 1 Series is still the best and most enjoyable premium hatchback you can buy.

Better be quick though. BMW will be replacing it soon with a front-wheel drive model, which will probably still be pretty good to drive, but which won’t have that rear-driven purity. Space inside is not as good as what you’d get in a Mercedes A-Class, or Audi A3, but it’s just about big enough to make it a practical family car.

The 116d has an oddly perfect combination of engine and chassis for rear-drive novices - just enough power and torque for enjoyment, but not so much that you’ll oversteer off through the next hedge.

If hedges and oversteer are your bag, better upgrade to the 340hp M140i, which is an M1 in all but name, and enormously good fun to drive. The only problem (and it’s a problem for all such premium hatchbacks) is that the money you’d spend on a basic one would put you behind the wheel of a Golf GTI. At which point, what’s the point?

Best model: Has to be the M140i for €55,064

Price range: €31,110 to €58,160. Finance from €POA per month.

Co2 emissions: 111 to 179g/km

Sum up: Get one while it’s still rear-wheel drive.