2012 BMW 1 Series: Up Close

2012 BMW 1 Series

As balanced as the 1 Series handles, I’ve always found something awry about its styling. The snub-nosed front end ends abruptly; the tail looks unfinished, especially compared to the 3 Series. The headlights are too big for a car that’s about 2 inches shorter and narrower than a Scion tC.

2012 BMW 1 Series (2)The car’s updates for 2012 don’t change its dimensions, but they improve upon a few areas. For starters, the headlights have decorative white caps with embedded LEDs. Only the 1 Series and 6 Series have the LEDs, but the white trim graces most BMW headlights these days. We’ve taken issue with it before – it recalls the controversial headlights on the prior 5 Series – but they cut down on actual headlight space, and on the 1 Series that makes for smaller-looking lights. It needed that. 

2012 BMW 1 Series (3)The 135i gets a more aggressive, three-portal front bumper that looks similar to last year’s bumper. It’s optional on the 128i; without it, the 128i receives the biggest visual changes for 2012. Circular fog lights replace the horizontal ones, and they now sit apart from the center air dam. Separate outboard gills smooth out the passage of air around the vehicle, slightly improving the car’s drag coefficient, BMW spokesman Matt Russell told me. The whole of it looks pretty busy in photos, but in person it’s reasonably cohesive.

The 1 Series M, on the other hand, looks distinct from either car. With extruded fenders to accommodate an M3-spec suspension – and add some 2 inches of width – the 1 Series M looks race-ready. Will people pay close to $50,000 for it? We’ll see. 

2012 BMW 1 Series (4)

BMW says the cabin controls have been refined, but I’m hard-pressed to see the difference. Cabin materials remain a shade below the 3 Series, and without seat belt extenders – which the 3 Series coupe has, albeit not the best-executed ones – it’s a long reach to the B-pillars to buckle in.


With everyone else post pics from the vehicles that they are unveiling at the 2011 auto show in Detroit , I know BMW would not be far behind. They did not disappoint at all. I really like the 135i but I'm sure it will look better in the red. The white is nice also don't get me wrong.


I still don't see the point of this car.


I'm with Adam. I see really rich people buying this for their 18 year old kid.


The 1 series is a cheap looking car. They're trying to see how small a car they can put on the market and still find enough suckers to shell out 35 - 40K.


im a fan of bmw, but i cant afford 1, and know thats the reason for the 1 series, a so called entry level car. im not knocking bmw for making an entry level car, im knocking my life thus far. and i know im not the only one, there are millions more people like me that are thinking the same thing. the car itself is impressive i like it a lot, and i tink it has a lot to offer, and looks real good.

Would a decontented 3 series with a four-cylinder engine, cloth interior etc for right at $30 be more alluring?


Did they improve the hard plastics of the original 1 series model? When I sat in the car I couldnt believe the dash was hard all around. The car's ambience is lacking.


What would be alluring for me is for the 1 Series (which BMW should have christened the 2 Series) is for it to be a lot less piggy than the 3 series.

The 128i already starts at $30K, but the problem is that the 328i goes for about $34K. Ideally, the 128i should have started at $25-26K and lose another 120-150 pounds. I know cutting weight out of cars isn't always easy with the ever growing safety features and growing waistlines, nor is it always cheap.

As I noted, the 1 Series pricing and dimensions make a lot more sense as a 2 Series; then, then a lower cost and possibly lighter 1 Series can emerge.

I'm not sure how much weight BMW can save by replacing the 3.0 I6 with a NA or turbo I4.

Joe Weiss

I really like the exterior styling and also the interior appointments of this car !!!

Joe Weiss

I really like this car !!! I'm surprised BMW has come out with such a clean mini-car design. EXCELLENT !!!


I see where you're going with your comment, DT. It could be more alluring. But, leatherette isn't so great either. And I don't think either V6 is fitting for this car. An inline 4 and optional turbo 4 would suffice, especially if it brought the price down.



If and only if they can put out a clothed seats, 4 cylinder with about 200HP 3 Series priced about 30K. Then they have a winning formula. However, are they going to make enough profit to make the car is the deal.


I would rather have a two door three series with cloth interior, four cylinder engine and 800 pounds less than what they're selling now. With a six speed manual that would be a hoot.

Uk Diesel Driver

3-series with cloth, manual and 4 cylinder turbo diesel (318D / 320D) are one of the most sold versions in Europe (company cars mainly).

A lot of younger people living in urban areas do not need 3-series size and have less cash / lower level jobs. They drive the 118D, and there are a lot of them.

BMW is doing fantastic on emissions and the base diesels are running riot in Europe due to the company car taxes.

If I did not need to have a childseat in the back I would take the 2-door 1 series 123D (200hp 4 cylinder diesel) over the 3 series. They are like a little pocket rocket...

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