What is it?
People buy the 1-Series for the badge and the way it handles. This convertible version manages the first part OK, but no so much the latter. It's still brilliant by most standards, and the cloth roof is well insulated and fast, but we'd take the coupe.
Where something like the Audi A3 cabrio surprises by being quite light and fizzy (if FWD), the 1-Series feels like some of the BMW USPs have been eroded. The 1-Series cabrio doesn't feel particularly rear-wheel drive, though there's plenty of grip to be had. The steering also feels slightly disconnected - though that could be the fault of overly-helpful power-assistance. You're into this one for the image, sunshine, let's not beat around the bush - if you want fine handling, look elsewhere in the BMW range.
The usual BMW 1-Series complaints of slightly chirpy ride from the standard run-flat tyres and a general feeling that this is a car that desperately wants to feel ‘sporty‘ by being ‘stiff‘. The Cabrio actually feels quite solid - which means it’s a bit of a surprise when there’s a decent wobble from the steering column on a rough road. The fabric hood is supremely well-insulated for both temperature and noise. Who needs a folding tin-top anyway?
The usual suspects in the range; four-pot 2.0-litre 118i with 141bhp, the same engine with 170bhp called the 120i, a 3.0-litre six-pot 125i with 218bhp and a similar 3.0-litre with two turbos and 306bhp called the 135i. There's also a 118d and 120d with 143bhp and 177bhp diesel power. Confusing isn't it? The base 118i (2.0-litre don't forget) goes from 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds and on to 130mph, the top-of-the-tree 135i (3.0-litre biturbo) gets to 62mph in just 5.6 seconds and runs on to a limited 155mph. The rest hold various positions between those two markers. Expect lots of de-badged 118is.
On the inside
‘It's all good in the hood' said Ice Cube in seminal gang film ‘Boyz ‘n' the Hood', and the same is true of the BMW 1-Series chop-top. Sort of. The interior is the same as the normal hatch, so nice, but not spectacular. The hood is very good indeed.
Small back seats and small boot though - this isn't the load-lugger/carry-all you may have been hoping for. Seats two. At best.
The diesel will get very respectable mpg, the smaller petrols like the 120i will get just over 40mpg - which is fine. The 135i is supposed to get a smidge over 30mpg. This made us laugh out loud in the office. Purchase price is high - you're paying for that BMW roundel - and residuals are generally good.