Good enough to make some 3 Series buyers think twice, the 2013 BMW 1 Series Coupe and Convertible speak to many BMW enthusiasts as well as younger buyers wanting an easier entrée into the joy of driving. The 1 Series is a simple, straightforward little package that takes the driving experience seriously. Convertible variants add the option of open-air motoring.
You'll Like The 2013 BMW 1 Series If...
If you like your driving served "straight up," the 2013 BMW 1 Series is your machine: Front engine, rear-wheel drive, good power and poised handling, all tuned and developed on the assumption you want your car to feel and sound and move just so.
You May Not Like The 2013 BMW 1 Series If...
The 1 Series, in either Coupe or Convertible guise, may be simple in specifications but a car like this is still costly to engineer and manufacture. If "driving dynamics" doesn't mean too much to you, you'll probably find a better transportation value in an Acura, Audi or VW.
A new higher-performance model joins the BMW 1 Series line for 2013, the 135is. It uses a version of the 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6-cylinder engine that also powers the 135i, but tuned for a power increase from 300 horsepower to 320.
The simple, businesslike interior of the 2013 BMW 1 Series suggests an "everything you need, nothing you don't" approach. It's an environment obviously crafted for the motoring athlete, and while upgrades – notably leather and wood trim – are available, they remain largely irrelevant for those with an interest in the 1 Series as a driving instrument. For them, the available sport bucket seats and M Sport steering wheel are the only necessary or appropriate upgrades.
Moving into 2013, the 1 Series' collection of compound curves is nearing the end of its production cycle. While the simple, unadorned form doesn't reek of planned obsolescence, it also doesn't seem destined to be a classic. It's a little narrow for its height, without strong character in the face or profile, though it is clean, with a saucy little rake in its stance. The 18-inch wheels and fatter tires on the 135i and 135is fill up the wheel wells and do improve the look some over the 17-inchers on the 128i.
With reasonably light curb weight, an almost perfect 50:50 weight distribution and a choice of responsive powertrains – all using BMW's signature and still delightful inline-6 engine configuration – the 2013 1 Series Coupe and Convertible provide an entertaining brew of spirited performance, dynamic handling and good efficiency. All versions are taut and tossable, and willing to play with an enthusiastic driver. Obviously, the new 320-horsepower 135is is the most exhilarating of the bunch, but there is plenty to recommend the balance and sweet nature of the 128i. The Convertible versions drive very much like their Coupe brethren, with very little perceptible flex in the structure and entirely acceptable interior noise levels.
The starting Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a 2013 BMW 128i Coupe is $32,095, and selecting heavily from the available options, including Premium and Technology Packages, can push that past $47,000. A 135i Coupe runs $40,195, and the new 135is Coupe starts at $44,145. If you'd prefer your BMW 1 Series with a fully lined power-folding top, the Convertible versions run another $5,000 or so: $37,795 for the 128i, $44,995 for the 135i, $48,845 for the 135is. A fully optioned 135is Convertible can top $63,000. Be sure and check KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price for a clear idea of what consumers pay in your market area. And if you're concerned about the cost of ownership and resale value, you'll be glad to know the 1 Series is among the top in its category for residual value.
Most notable – from a driver's point of view – is BMW's iconic inline-6 engine, whose smoothness and flexibility may spoil you for other drivetrains. Beyond that, a base 128i is not deep in modern features and equipment, but it does include Dynamic Stability Control (incorporating hill assist and brake drying), heated outside mirrors, 8-way (manual) adjustable front seats, automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity and a leather-rimmed sport steering wheel with audio and phone controls. The rear seat that's actually spacious enough to use qualifies as another noteworthy standard feature.
The best 1 Series options live in packages, including the M Sport Package (firmer suspension, distinctive wheels, M Sport steering wheel and deeper bucket seats), the Premium Package (auto-dimming mirrors, keyless entry, power front seats and SiriusXM satellite radio) and the Technology Package (navigation with real-time traffic, voice commands, the BMW Assist telematics and Online Services, which can deliver weather, stocks and Google Maps information to the car's display screen). A power moonroof and audio upgrade from harman/kardon are among the stand-alone options.
The inline-6-cylinder engine is becoming a rarity (most sixes today are Vs) because their height and length make them tricky to package. But that configuration is perfectly balanced, and there is still nothing quite like the crisp, velvety, free-revving feel and sound of a BMW straight-6.
BMW ULTIMATE SERVICE
After writing the big check you just want to enjoy your car. BMW's Ultimate Service helps makes that possible, covering ALL maintenance for the first four years and 50,000 miles of ownership. From oil to brake pads to wiper blades, if it wears out or needs replacing, it's covered.
Under the Hood
BMW's inline-6 is legendary and has been a signature ingredient of small BMWs for some 25 years. The 128i synchs a normally aspirated 230-horsepower 3.0 with a 6-speed manual transmission or optional 6-speed automatic. Next up the power ladder is a turbocharged version putting out 300 horses in the 135i, teamed with the manual or a 7-speed twin-clutch automatic. New for 2013 is the range-toping 135is, whose turbo 3.0 is tuned for 320 horsepower, with the same manual or twin-clutch automatic transmissions. The relentless march toward fuel efficiency may eventually force replacement of these lovely straight-6s with turbocharged-4s, whose performance will be great but whose running character and soundtrack won't come close to the traditional BMW inline-6 experience.
230 horsepower at 6,500 rpm
200 lb-ft of torque at 2,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/28 mpg, 18/27 mpg (Convertible, automatic)
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6
300 horsepower at 5,800 rpm
300 lb-ft of torque at 1,300-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg (Coupe, manual), 18/25 mpg (Coupe, automatic), 17/26 mpg (Convertible, manual and automatic)
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6
320 horsepower at 5,800 rpm
317 lb-ft of torque at 1,500-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg (Coupe, manual), 18/25 mpg (Coupe, automatic), 19/28 mpg (Convertible, manual), 19/25 mpg (Convertible, automatic)
Good enough to make some 3 Series buyers think twice, the 2013 BMW 1 Series Coupe and Convertible speak to many BMW enthusiasts as well as younger buyers wanting an easier entrée into the joy of driving. And you can enjoy the 1 Series as aggressively as you care to, with an entry-level 128i offering 230 horsepower for around $32,000 and the new up-power 135is costing about $44,000 for its 320 turbocharged horses. Convertible variants across the line add the option of open-air motoring. The 1 Series is a simple, straightforward little package that takes the driving experience seriously.