When talking about first cars for new drivers, the most important things to keep in mind are safety features and avoiding more power than you can handle. In addition, you need something affordable, since being a new driver means you are most likely young. This makes a BMW Series 1 a perfect vehicle for new drivers.
The BMW Series 1 F40
The third-generation BMW Series offers a subcompact hatchback in either xDrive or a front-wheel-drive layout.
What makes this car a good first car for a new driver is that the Series 1 F40 is smaller than most BMWs, lacks the power to be extremely aggressive on the road, and is also quite safe to ride, both in traffic and outside town.
With dimensions of 170 inches long (2.67 meters) and 71 inches wide (1.80 meters), the BMW 1 Series is quite easy to park with. And with a 5 out 5-star rating in the Euro NCAP safety test, this vehicle is very safe to drive, even by inexperienced drivers.
The BMW Series 1 is available in four trims: Luxury, Advantage, Sport and M Sport trim. It has a very impressive and quite soft suspension. For drivers who experience travel-sickness on longer trips, especially if there are many turns, the BMW 1 Series fights that with smooth turns and a comfortable ride. It’s not floaty, and is quite steady on the road, even in harsher turns.
Despite this being a front-wheel-drive vehicle, it still feels like a BMW. It is a very big improvement, compared to the previous rear-wheel drive Series 1. Wind noise is almost close to zero, even at higher speeds.
BMW Series 1 engine options
The engine options available vary, and as you would expect from a BMW there are more gasoline engines than diesel ones. It comes in 6-speed manual, 8-speed automatic and 7-speed Getrag M-DCT dual-clutch transmissions.
Gasoline engine options:
- 116i: B38B15 1.5 L l3 turbo with 108 bhp
- 118i: B38B15 1.5 L l3 turbo, 138 bhp
- 120i: B48A20 2.0 L l4 turbo, 176 bhp
- 128ti: B48A20 2.0 L l4 turbo, 261 bhp
- M135i xDrive: B48A20 2.0 L l4 turbo, 302 bhp
Diesel engine options:
- 116d: B37C15UO 1.5 L l3 turbo, 114 bhp
- 118d: B47D20 2.0 L l4 turbo, 148 bhp
- 120d xDrive: B47D20 2.0 L l4 turbo, 187 bhp
What these numbers mean is that if you are a new driver, or a parent looking to purchase a first car for your child, the BMW Series 1 provides less power than you would normally expect from a BMW. Of course, these engines should not be underestimated as the fastest of them can still reach from 0 to 62 miles per hour in just 4.8 seconds.
BMW Series 1 interior and features
Contrary to popular belief, BMW 1 Series provides the driver with plenty of space and movement if you decide to adjust your seat. The fully electric seat adjustment somewhat compensates for the hard cushions of these BMWs.
In terms of passenger space, the rear is slightly ahead of rivals like Mercedes A-Class or BMW A3, but still behind more spacious cars in the segment like Seat Leon. Generally, if your passengers are under 6 feet tall, they will find the back comfortable, otherwise they might brush the roof lining just a bit.
The luggage room is not that plentiful. You can fit around 5 carry-on cases, but that’s what you normally would expect from a hatchback.
The windscreen pillars are very slim and allow the driver to have an ample field of view in front of the vehicle, and on its sides. On the other hand, the rear pillars are quite large and somewhat restrict your sight in the back.
Fear not, if you think this will impair your parking skills, it won’t. The BMW Series 1 comes with rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera to fix that issue. There is also a semi-automatic parking system available as an add-on, if you think you are in need of that.
The infotainment is a standard 8.8-inch screen, that has the option to be upgraded to 10.3 inch on most BMW trims. The classical rotary controller, that you would expect in a BMW, is there, if you are not a fan of touchscreen controls.
Both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available and come in the standard version of the BMW Series 1. The audio is decent, with an option available to add on a 16-speaker, 464-watt surround system by Harmon Kardon, for those who cherish good vibrations.
BMW models for every stage of life
What is the best BMW for a new driver to drift with?
The best BMW to buy as a first car to drift with is the BMW M3 E36 or generally a BMW 3 Series E36. It has a bulletproof engine and a manual transmission with the base model carrying a 3.0 L twin turbo six-cylinder engine, generating 283 lb-feet of torque, which is more than enough to do what you wish on the road. It also reaches the impressive speed of 155 miles per hour.
What are other good BMW models for a first car?
In general, BMW 3 Series and BMW 2 Series are great for beginners, as long as you have purchased the less powerful engine option. Especially for a first car, avoid purchasing powerful cars like most BMWs are. If you have never driven a rear-wheel drive car before, consider trying one first on a test drive before purchasing it.
What is a good BMW model for a family car?
For a family of three or four, the BMW X1 and X3 are suitable vehicles, although a X5 would be the perfect fit.
For a larger family of five, the BMW X5 or X7 are larger and more convenient, as the newest generations of these luxury SUVs also offer a third row of seats, allowing the vehicle to have room for 7 people in total. There is also plenty of luggage space and both vehicles are rated 5 out of 5 in terms of safety.