What’s New – The 1 Series is all-new for 2008, marking BMW’s return to the smaller-than-a-3 Series segment. However, much of the technology and hardware is standard BMW issue, including the two six-cylinder engines, optional navigation system with iDrive, and sporty rear-drive character. Prices start just under $30,000 for the 1 Series, which is available in coupe and convertible forms.
Why It Matters – Whether due to higher gas prices or an iffy economy, many car buyers are considering smaller, less expensive alternatives to what they might have purchased just a few years ago. And then there are others who simply want an affordable car that’s a total blast to drive, one that comes from an aspirational brand such as BMW.
BMW 1 Series – 2008 First Drive: Personal needs and individual wants. They’re why some of us call a cramped studio in New York City home while others lay their heads down in a Malibu mansion; why some of us take a job directly out of high school and others earn multiple degrees; why some of us know the definition of “business attire” and others couldn’t find two of the same socks if their lives depended on it; and why Ben & Jerry’s offers more flavors than there are people in its home state of Vermont.
It’s the same reasoning behind the development of the 2008 BMW 1 Series, a German luxury car that provides the driving thrill and amenities found in the popular 3 Series, albeit in a smaller and arguably less attractive package. For shoppers seeking the driving character associated with the Bavarian Motor Works brand, are possibly looking for a less expensive sports car that theoretically accommodates up to four passengers, or simply want a 3 Series that fits into a tight metered parking space, BMW offers the 1 Series as its best solution. Understanding that as popular as they may be, the existing lineup of 3, 5, 6, and 7 Series coupes, convertibles and sedans don’t necessarily fit the lifestyle of every potential BMW customer, engineers took what was best from those models – namely stellar handling and two exciting six-cylinder engines – and put them into an entry-level ride that starts at less than $30,000.
If this is just the car you’ve been waiting for, you’re in luck – coupes went on sale in March and the convertible will follow within several weeks. Dubbing 2008 Year One of the 1, the first run of 1 Series models will feature an inscription on the ring surrounding the push button ignition as well as a commemorative book with a copy of the VIN plate and a certificate of authenticity.
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2008 BMW 1 Series - Notable Features
Besides sharing engines, one of which is a 300-horsepower twin-turbocharged six-banger, with the larger 3 and 5 Series models, the new 1 Series packs a lot into a small package. There’s the fact that you can get your little Bimmer in coupe or convertible guise and then outfit it with HD radio, a USB port, voice-activated navigation, and a number of other standard and optional features designed to cater to your comfort or sport tendencies. All buyers will benefit from free scheduled maintenance spanning four years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first.
That’s comforting piece of mind backed up by a slew of safety features including front-side and side-curtain airbags (not available on convertibles), a tire pressure monitor, start-off assist technology that temporarily holds the 1 Series on steep inclines, and a rollover sense for drop-top models. Strong emphasis has been placed on the brakes, too, with Dynamic Brake Control, Brake Fade Compensation, Brake Drying, and standard ABS. These items all work in conjunction with Dynamic Stability Control and Dynamic Traction Control, both of which can be completely deactivated.
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2008 BMW 1 Series - Models and Pricing
BMW clearly did not create the new 1 Series for indecisive types, since there are two body styles, two engines, and a plethora of options from which to choose. The lineup starts with the 230-horsepower 128i, available in coupe and convertible forms and featuring standard leatherette upholstery, an auxiliary audio jack, dual-zone climate control (that compensates for exterior temperature and the amount of sunlight on convertible models), a 10-speaker audio system with an MP3 player, and a power moonroof. This entry-level model is also treated to front fog lights, heated mirrors and washers, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, and a push-button ignition system. Tack on four years/50,000 miles of free maintenance and you’ve got yourself a significant bundle of content before even hitting the options list.
That’s where you’ll find all the doodads you could possibly want, but be prepared to lay out some coin to get them. High-intensity discharge xenon headlights will set you back $800, a USB port for your iPhone or iPod goes for $400, leather upholstery is priced at $1,450, a six-speed Steptronic automatic transmission replaces the standard six-speed manual for $1,275, and a handy navigation system complete with voice-activated controls and real-time traffic goes for $2,100. This is not a touch-screen system but does include and is the only way to get BMW’s iDrive technology. Buyers can also go for active steering ($1,400), power front seats with memory ($995), rear park assist ($350), and audio upgrades including HD radio ($350), Sirius satellite service ($595), and a premium hi-fi system with dual subwoofers ($875). There are three packages available on the 128i, as well: Sport, which adds a sport suspension, sport seats, upgraded brakes, performance tires and more for $1,200; Premium, including power seats, BMW Assist, leather upholstery and more for $3,600; and the Cold Weather Package, which features a rear pass-through ski bag, heated front seats, and retractable headlight washers for $750. Specific to the convertible are leather seats with Sun Reflective Technology (they don’t get as hot in direct sunlight), a wind deflector, and optional storage bags.
Move up the 1 Series ladder to the 135i, also available in coupe and convertible forms, and you’ll gain access to the 300-horsepower, twin turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine first introduced on the 3 Series. Besides more grunt, the 135i features standard xenon headlights, gray poplar and aluminum interior trim, and retractable headlight washers. Options are similar to those on the 128i, though the package prices are slightly less -- $600 for the Cold Weather Package, $3,300 for the Premium Package, and $1,000 for the Sport Package.
These add-ons are above and beyond the base prices, which amount to $29,375 for the 128i coupe, $33,875 for the 128i convertible, $35,675 for the 135i coupe, and $39,875 for the 135i convertible. All figures include a $775 destination charge.