Premium sporty/performance car; Built in Germany
  • 2-door convertible
  • 2-door coupe
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $8,000 – $30,900*


2008 BMW 1-Series Front


2008 BMW 1-Series Rear


2008 BMW 1-Series Profile


2008 BMW 1-Series Rear-2

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Ride (128i w/o Sport Package)
  • Steering/handling
  • Visibility (coupes)
Cons:
  • Interior storage space
  • Rear-seat entry/exit
  • Rear-seat room
  • Visibility (top-up in convertibles)

Whatever the 1-Series coupe and convertible give up in size to their larger 3-Series counterparts seemed well worth the $5000-10,000 price differential when these cars were new-unless rear-seat passengers simply won’t fit. Convertibles also adopted a less-expensive soft top in place of the 3-Series’ folding hardtop. Aside from that quibble, BMW’s entry-level cars deliver the marque’s revered panache and dynamic properties with few other sacrifices.

Overview

Billed as a veritable descendant of the 2002 series of the 1970s, a favorite of early-BMW fans, the 2008 BMW 1-Series line was new to North America. Slotting below BMW’s 3-Series in both size and price, these compact premium sporty/performance rear-wheel-drive models came in 128i and 135i form. Both models were initially available, in spring 2008, as a two-door coupe. Convertibles with a power-folding soft top arrived later in the 2008 model year. Rivals included the Audi A3 hatchback, Porsche Cayman two-seater, and Volvo C30.

Their 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engines were shared with the 3-Series. The 128i engine developed 230 horsepower, while the 135i got a turbocharged engine that produced 300 horsepower. All models had a standard six-speed manual transmission, but could be equipped with an optional six-speed automatic.

Standard safety features included antilock brakes, traction control, an antiskid system, curtain side airbags (coupes only), and front side airbags. A sunroof, split-folding rear seat, and poplar wood interior trim were standard in coupes. All models had run-flat tires: 17-inch on the 128i and 18-inch on the 135i. Coupes could have optional Premium and Sport packages. The Premium Package included leather upholstery, a power front seat, and BMW’s Assist system. Ordering a Sport Package added specific trim, a sport suspension (on 128i), and sport bucket seats. Other options included a voice-activated navigation system, aluminum or burled walnut interior trim, leather upholstery, and heated front seats.

Yearly Updates

2009 1-Series
BMW’s smallest model was largely unchanged for the 2009 model year. Two new options were available: A heated steering wheel, and BMW’s fourth-generation iDrive controller, which was included with the optional navigation system
2010 1-Series
The 2010 BMW 1-Series was largely unchanged.
2011 1-Series
The 2011 BMW 1-Series lineup gained some new option packages, a new transmission, and a new high-performance variant. The 135i swapped a seven-speed automatic for a six-speed, and added was the sporty M coupe, with a 335-horsepower turbocharged six-cylinder engine.
2012 1-Series
For 2012, the high-performance 1-Series M coupe introduced for 2011 was dropped after just a year on the market. Other models continued with minor styling tweaks and some revised connectivity features.
2013 1-Series
The standard 128i and 135i were unchanged. The big news for 2013 was the addition of a new performance model. The 135is essentially serves as a stand-in for the model-year-2011-only 1-Series M. While the M only came as a coupe, BMW offered the 135is as both a coupe and convertible.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

In the 128i coupe and convertible, the 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engines makes 230 horsepower. The 135i models use a turbocharged, 300-horsepower version of the 3.0-liter six. Both engines mate with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, though the 300-horsepower variant swapped its six-speed automatic for a seven-speed for 2011. Also added for 2011 was the high-performance M coupe with a 335-horsepower version of that engine, but it lasted only a year. In 2013, the 135is was added to take the place of the M. It was powered by a 320-horsepower version of the turbocharged 3.0-liter in-line six mated to a 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic.

dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/183
Engine HP 230
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 200
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
18/28
18/28
21.4
Turbocharged dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/183
Engine HP 300
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 300
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
7-speed automatic
17/25
18/25
18/25
20.2

Turbocharged dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/182
Engine HP 320
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 317
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
7-speed automatic
20/28
18/25
Turbocharged dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/183
Engine HP 335
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 332
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual

19/24

Road Test

We have not had the opportunity to test either the 2011 M or that year’s new seven-speed automatic. Even in heavier convertible form, and with the automatic transmission, a 128i provides spirited acceleration worthy of the class. BMW claimed 7.0-second acceleration time to 60 mph for an automatic-transmission convertible, and 6.1 seconds for a manual-transmission coupe. The turbocharged 135i is noticeably stronger off the line and in passing maneuvers, though a small amount of turbo lag delays takeoffs. BMW said the manual-transmission 135i coupes accelerated to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, which is both quick and believable. Manual transmissions have precise shift action and an easily modulated clutch. The automatic transmission shifts smoothly, downshifts quickly for more power, and responds promptly to manual gear selections, whether requested via the console-mounted lever or available steering-wheel-mounted paddles.

During road testing, a 135i coupe averaged 20.2 mpg. Test 128i convertibles have averaged 20.2 to 22.7 mpg. BMW requires premium-grade gasoline for all 1-Series cars.

Ride comfort varies according to model. On its standard 16-inch tires, the 128i convertible rides surprisingly well, easily soaking up smaller road blemishes and pavement heaves. At the other extreme, the 135i coupe came standard with a sport suspension and 18-inch tires-a combination that reacts much more sharply to bad pavement, yet never feels harsh. The Sport Package for the 128i included a sport suspension and 17-inch wheels. That combination had a detrimental impact on road quality, so try before you buy.

BMW’s legendary handling capability carries over to the 1-Series. Even the tamer 128i convertible, with the base suspension and 16-inch tires, exhibits little body lean in fast turns, while benefiting from fine steering and brake feel. The 135i coupes raise the bar higher yet with their standard sport suspension and 18-inch tires, resulting in crisp steering, flat cornering, and sports-car agility.

Both engines emit only a muffled snarl under acceleration, and are seldom heard in normal cruising. Wind and road noise are well checked. Coarse-surface tire hum is more noticeable with the 135i coupe’s standard 18-inch performance tires and the 128’s optional 17-inch run-flats. Top-down, the convertible requires raised voices in order to carry on a conversation at highway speeds.

Audio and climate controls are mounted somewhat low on the dashboard, yet are easy to reach and simple to decipher and adjust. The optional navigation system is accompanied by BMW’s console-mounted iDrive controller and dashboard screen. That combination absorbs some audio functions, complicating what is otherwise a simple procedure. BMW’s odd turn-signal actuation takes getting used to, but works fine once you do. If set in a low position the steering wheel blocks some of the instrument panel.

Rich-looking plastics, lightly padded surfaces, and wood or textured aluminum trim line the interior-in keeping with 1-Series prices. The convertible feels impressively stiff for a four-passenger car, with little cowl shake over bumps. However, one test convertible suffered from an intermittent top-up rattle. Console-mounted beverage holders look tacked-on.

Front seats offer ample room and comfort for adults, with standard height adjustment, though some testers have found the seat’s side bolster to be overly confining. Thin pillars in the coupe provide fine visibility to all directions, though wide front headrests can get in the way when backing up. Convertibles, which have a well-insulated soft top, sacrifice visibility to the rear corners and directly astern, due to thick “rear pillars” and a small back window.

Rear seats have sufficient headroom and legroom for an average-size adult to sit behind another average-size adult. However, front-seat occupants over six feet tall will extract rear legroom from the person behind. Cabins are quite narrow so two adults sit shoulder-to-shoulder. Elbow space is very tight in coupes, and stingier yet in the convertible, because its sidewalls are angled in to make room for the top.

Trunks are reasonably sized, but the opening is quite small, and narrow at the bottom. Convertibles lose about 1.6 cubic feet of cargo volume when the top is stowed-an area partitioned off at the top rear of the compartment by a fold-down cover. Coupes have a split-folding rear seat; convertibles might have the optional pass-through. Interior storage is limited to a small glovebox and smaller console box, along with a tiny console bin and map pockets.

Ratings

Model Tested: 135i coupe w/automatic

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 8
80%
Fuel Economy - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 4
40%
Steering/Handling - 9
90%
Quietness - 6
60%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Front - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Rear - 2
20%
Cargo Room - 3
30%

Other

Value - 7
70%

Total: 58

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
104.7 172.2 68.8 55.6
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
8.0 14.0 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.6 37.0 41.2 31.3
2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
104.7 171.7 68.8 56.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
10.0 14.0 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.9 37.1 41.4 32.0
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2008 1-Series 2-door coupe

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - NA
0%
Front Passenger Injury - NA
0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Engine knock
Description: A rattle or clack noise from under the hood when the engine is shut down may be coming from the turbocharger’s wastegate caused by pinched vacuum hose. (2008-09)
Engine noise
Description: A whistling noise from under the hood can be traced to a failed gasket between the turbocharger and catalytic converter. (2009)
Audio system
Description: Some iPods may not charge via the original USB adapter cable and a revised cable has been made available. (2007-09)
Electrical problem
Description: Several functions, including the sunroof, interior lights and rain sensor, may stop working due to a module software glitch. (2007-08)

Recall History

2008 1-Series
Description: Incorrect crimp connectors may have been used on the side air bag and belt tensioner wiring, resulting in a possible increase in the electrical resistance of that connection. The side air bag and/or the safety belt tensioner may not deploy in a crash and an occupant may not be properly protected. Dealers will repair the vehicles free of charge.
2008-2010 1-Series
Description: In a crash of sufficient severity, deployment of the front pre-tensioner and load-limiter occurs. The insulation around the pre-tensioner could ignite.
2008-2012 1-Series coupes and convertibles
Description: A battery cable connector may degrade over time, potentially resulting in a break in the connection and loss of power to the vehicle.
2010-12 1-Series
Description: Bolts securing variable-camshaft-timing adjustment an loosen or break resulting loss of power or stall.
207-11 1-Series
Description: Radiator fan stop working and potentially lead to fire.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.