The 2011 BMW 1-Series offers a sporty combination of athleticism and luxury in both coupe and convertible body styles. While the 1-Series represents BMW's "entry-level" vehicle, it is certainly not to be underestimated as it possesses the brand's top-notch and traditional attributes: outstanding handling capabilities, powerful yet fuel-efficient engines, solid build quality, attractive BMW design lines and an overall air of taste and refinement.
First and foremost, the 1-Series is an engaging and fun to drive car well-suited for those who enjoy the driving experience. And while its name may seem to imply something "less" than its 3-Series sibling, the 1-Series is actually powered by the same inline-6 engines. So yes, the 2011 135i also comes with the new direct-injection inline-6 with its single twin-scroll turbocharger, an engine with the same 300 horsepower as the previous twin-turbo, but with both earlier torque and better fuel economy.
Trims, Standard Features And Options:
Available in both coupe and convertible forms, the 2011 1-Series is offered two trims: 128i and 135i.
Standard features for the 128i coupe include full power accessories, 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, premium vinyl upholstery, heated mirrors and windshield washer jets, automatic headlights, foglights, 8-way manual front seats, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and a 10-speaker audio system with HD radio, a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.
The 128i convertible then adds a lined power soft top and a special convertible climate control setting, while the 135i adds a more powerful engine, a sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels, a sunroof (on the coupe), unique front and rear lower fascias and adaptive xenon headlights with auto-leveling and washers.
There's also a wide choice of available options. The Convenience package includes xenon headlights on the 128i, an alarm system, keyless entry/ignition and rear parking sensors. The Premium package includes leather upholstery, 8-way power front seats, driver memory functions, auto-dimming mirrors, BMW Assist emergency telematics, Bluetooth and a sunroof on the 128i. The Value package includes leather upholstery and an iPod/USB adapter.
The 128i Sport package includes a sport-tuned suspension, a higher top speed, sport seats, special 17-inch wheels and "Shadowline" exterior trim accents, while the 135i Sport package includes the higher top speed, an M Sport steering wheel, sport seats and the Shadowline exterior trim. The M Sport package is essentially each respective Sport package with a unique set of wheels, a dark headliner, the M steering wheel on the 128i and the 135i's aerodynamic body kit.
Most of the non-Sport package features are also offered as stand-alone options. Other stand-alone options include navigation (with the iDrive electronics interface), heated front seats, active steering, a heated steering wheel and an upgraded Harman Kardon audio system. There's also a Moonlight Black soft top available for the convertible which produces a metallic silver look in both sunlight and moonlight.
Engines, Powertrain And Gas Mileage:
The 2011 BMW 1-Series is a rear-wheel-drive vehicle powered by a choice two different 3.0-liter inline-6 engines. The 128i's inline-6 is good for 230 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque. It's paired with either the standard 6-speed manual transmission or an optional 6-speed automatic. In performance tests, a 128i coupe with the manual transmission was timed from a standstill to 60 mph in a very quick 5.9 seconds. The heavier convertible did the same sprint in 6.7 seconds. The EPA-estimated gas mileage for the 128i is 18 mpg city and 28 mpg on the highway with either transmission, while the automatic convertible is rated at 18 city and 27 highway.
The turbocharged and direct-injected 135i's inline-6 produces 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. It's mated with either the standard 6-speed manual transmission or an optional 7-speed automated manual transmission (DCT). While not yet sprint-tested at the time of this writing, the previous 135i had a 0 - 60 mph time of a fleet 5.1 seconds for the coupe and 5.5 for the convertible. The EPA-estimated gas mileage has improved this year for this engine, standing at 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway with the manual and 18 and 25, respectively, with the DCT. The manual 135i convertible is rated at 19 city and 28 highway.
Standard safety features for the 2011 BMW 1-Series include stability control, traction control, antilock disc brakes (ABS) with brake drying, hill start-off assist on manual transmission models, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags on the coupe, higher extending and head protecting front-seat side airbags on the convertible, as well as pop-up rollover hoops on the convertible.
Government crash testing had not yet been completed at the time of this writing.
The 2011 1-Series' cabin is attractive and well-constructed. While its materials quality is generally on par with the class, there's more hard plastics employed than in the 3-Series, although it's not a major detraction. The seating is comfortable, although the Sport seats are outstanding for those who find the Sport package in the budget. Displays, gauges and controls are well-placed, easy to see and user-friendly, while external visibility is excellent.
Not surprisingly, the rear seats are fairly cramped and only accommodate small adults and children comfortably. The coupe's trunk, however, comes in at an adequate 13 cubic feet, while that of the convertible comes in at 8.5 cubic feet with the top down.
The 1-Series shines its brightest on the road, as one would expect from a BMW. While perhaps not quite as dynamic as pricier BMWs, most drivers will likely be very pleased with its responsiveness, quickness and grip in the corners. This is simply a fun and engaging car to drive around town and yet still remains fairly refined when cruising down the highway.
The 1-Series is an impressive drive with either engine, with both providing smooth and seamless acceleration all the way to top speed. True, the 135i may get the bulk of the attention with its upgraded powertrain, but the 128i is certainly no slouch and most drivers will appreciate its athletic handling, particularly when equipped with the manual transmission that best utilizes its lively inline-6.
How To Get The Lowest Price:
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2011 BMW 1-Series:
128i Coupe: list price: $29,450, invoice price: $27,095
135i Coupe: list price: $36,350, invoice price: $33,440
128i Convertible: list price: $34,500, invoice price: $31,740
135i Convertible: list price: $40,650, invoice price: $37,400