2012 BMW 1 Series Review | Edmunds.com

2012 BMW 1 Series

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
BMW 1 Series Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.0 L Inline 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 230 hp @ 6500 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 18/28 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 BMW 1 Series

  • Its styling won't suit everyone, but the 2012 BMW 1 Series undeniably offers a very appealing combination of performance and refinement in either coupe or convertible form.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Powerful, fuel-efficient engines; nimble handling; solid construction; refined performance; convertible available.

  • Cons

    Cramped backseat; mediocre interior materials; less-than-svelte styling.

  • What's New for 2012

    The 2012 BMW 128i and 135i receive a minor face-lift that includes revised light clusters, a more aerodynamic front fascia for the 128i and refinished interior controls.

Full 2012 BMW 1 Series Review

What's New for 2012

The 2012 BMW 128i and 135i receive a minor face-lift that includes revised light clusters, a more aerodynamic front fascia for the 128i and refinished interior controls.


"Entry-level BMW." Unfortunately, this phrase can sound like you've settled for something less just so you can afford to drive a car with the blue and white roundel on its hood. But once you get behind the wheel of the 2012 BMW 1 Series, you'll realize that the defining characteristics of a BMW -- namely refinement, a supple ride and most importantly, a responsive and engaging drive -- are fully intact. Indeed, the nimble 1 Series is a ton of fun and fully deserving of the BMW badge.

Under the hood there is more proof that this is no poseur, as the 1 Series is available with the same superb inline-6 engines as the BMW 3 Series. This means a naturally aspirated 230-horsepower version in the 128i and a turbocharged, direct-injected, 300-hp version in the 135i. Both are superb, and the 135i delivers acceleration comparable to that of many performance cars as a result. Transmission choices are also first-rate, with a choice of a six-speed manual, six-speed automatic or, in the 135i, a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual.

True, the 2012 BMW 1 Series is rather expensive for a compact car, especially when one doesn't exercise restraint while perusing the various option packages. But we'll stop short of calling the 1 Series too expensive given its powerful engines, impressive handling and lack of direct competition. Indeed, no car truly lines up with the 128i or 135i as an apples-to-apples competitor, though the Audi TT, Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Nissan 370Z and America's three muscle cars are in the same ballpark as the 1 Series coupe. Compared to the 1 Series convertible, you could cross-shop the less-exciting Mini Cooper convertible and VW Eos.

In general, in this class it's usually going to come down to what pushes your buttons in terms of styling and performance. The variety of choices is great for consumers, whose tastes tend to vary widely within this segment. But in any event, should you be considering this joyful little Bimmer and come across someone bashing it, just remind him that the 1 Series does indeed provide the sporting personality, solid construction and uniquely nimble nature that makes a BMW a BMW.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 BMW 1 Series comes in coupe and convertible body styles, both of which are available in 128i and 135i configurations.

The 128i comes standard with 17-inch wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, automatic wipers, cruise control, eight-way manual front seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, premium vinyl upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control and a 10-speaker stereo with a CD player, HD radio and iPod connectivity. The 128i convertible adds a fully lined power-folding automatic soft top and a special convertible mode for the climate control. Aside from its more powerful engine, the 135i adds a sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights with auto-leveling and washers, different front and rear lower fascias and (on the coupe) a sunroof.

The Convenience package adds keyless ignition/entry, rear parking sensors, an alarm system and, on the 128i, xenon headlights. The Premium package adds auto-dimming mirrors, eight-way power front seats with driver memory settings, leather upholstery, Bluetooth, BMW Assist emergency telematics and, on the 128i, a sunroof. The convertible's available leather upholstery features a sun-reflective treatment.

The 128i Sport package adds a sport-tuned suspension, different 17-inch wheels, sport seats, dark "Shadowline" exterior trim and an increased top speed. The 135i Sport package adds sport seats, an M Sport steering wheel, Shadowline trim and increased top speed. The M Sport package, available with both models, basically takes each respective Sport package and adds different wheels and a dark-colored headliner, plus the 128i version gets the M steering wheel and the 135i's aerodynamic body kit.

Much of the equipment found in the non-Sport packages is available as à la carte options, while additional stand-alone options include heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system (includes BMW iDrive electronics interface) and a Harman Kardon upgraded stereo.

Powertrains and Performance

The rear-wheel-drive BMW 1 Series offers a choice of two different 3.0-liter inline-6 engines. The 128i produces 230 hp and 200 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic transmission is optional. In Edmunds performance testing, a manual-equipped 128i coupe sprinted from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. The convertible posted a 6.7-second time. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 18 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined regardless of transmission. The automatic convertible gets 18/27/21, however.

The 135i's turbocharged inline-6 engine produces 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a seven-speed automated manual transmission (known as DCT) is optional. In our testing, a 135i coupe with the manual transmission sprinted to 60 mph from a standstill in an impressively quick 5 seconds flat. However, that number rose to 6.2 seconds with DCT. EPA-estimated fuel economy is actually better than the 128i's, achieving 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway/23 mpg combined with the manual and 18/25/21 with the automated manual transmission. The manual-equipped convertible gets 19/28/22.


Antilock disc brakes (with brake drying and standby feature), traction and stability control and hill-start assist for manual-equipped cars are all standard on the 2012 BMW 1 Series. Front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are standard on the coupe; convertibles come equipped with front-seat side airbags that extend higher to protect occupants' heads. The convertible also features pop-up rollover hoops.

In Edmunds brake testing, a 135i Coupe with the standard 18-inch wheels came to a stop from 60 mph in an excellent 110 feet.

Interior Design and Special Features

The interior of the 1 Series is generally competitive with its rivals in terms of materials quality. Although there are still more hard plastics than we'd like, this year brings a new "Galvanized Pearl Gloss" finish to the cabin's door handles, various control knobs and steering wheel accents.

Most of the controls are straight out of the standard BMW playbook and are easy to use. The base seats are remarkably lacking in support given this car's performance potential; we strongly recommend anteing up for the Sport package and its superb, manually adjustable sport seats. The convertible's optional sun-reflective leather seating does an impressive job of keeping your butt from roasting.

Although the BMW 1 Series is technically a four-seater, the rear seats are significantly smaller than those in the 3 Series coupe, so they're best left to cargo or those of smaller stature. The coupe's decent-sized trunk holds 13 cubic feet of luggage; in the convertible, there are 8.5 cubes left over when the top is stowed.

Driving Impressions

It'll take a real purpose-built sporting machine to outrun the 2012 BMW 1 Series on a winding road. Though some hard-core drivers might find that the car's handling isn't as rewarding as other BMWs when driven enthusiastically, the vast majority of owners will find joy in the responsive steering, excellent body control and great outward visibility. The ride of the 1 Series isn't quite as refined as that of a 3 Series, either, but it's quite good relative to rivals.

Even the base 128i's naturally aspirated inline-6 is a gem of an engine, sweeping from idle to redline on a smooth wave of turbine-like power. The 135's turbocharged inline-6 engine cranks up the power while retaining every bit of that characteristic smoothness. Although the 135i with the top-of-the-line powertrain gets most of the attention, the 128i is still plenty of fun to drive, particularly with the manual transmission coupled to its free-revving six.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

Makes driving an experience

by on
Vehicle: 2012 BMW 1 Series 135i 2dr Coupe (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 6M)

Purchased a 2012 model 135i that is my fourth BMW, and by far the most fun to drive. Performance is a given with the Turbo engine, and the road "feel" makes for an enjoyable experience every time. There's something about knowing you can do what you want to do when you want it, particularly when someone passes you then settles in right in front of you, that gives a wonderful feel of confidence. It's one of those things that will only get better with age, sorta like it's owner!

2 of 9 people found this review helpful

My first bmw 128i

by on
Vehicle: 2012 BMW 1 Series 128i 2dr Coupe (3.0L 6cyl 6M)

My first BMW 128i Coupe is a great purchase decision. It is FUN, responsive, comfortable, easy to operate, & has good driver visibilty. I bought the 128i after months of research and test driving other competitors like Audi, Mercedes, etc. I was looking for a personal "driving experience" for my comutes to work and one that allowed me to enjoy high quality workmanship that only cars of that class can consistently produce. The 128i is purely BMW! Recommend the Sports Package (sport seats are very nice), BMW IDrive, Premium & Convenience packages at a minumum (elevates the BMW driving experience). Pricey, maybe... but it's a BMW. Besides, who buys a BMW to save money?

5 of 5 people found this review helpful


by on
Vehicle: 2012 BMW 1 Series 128i 2dr Coupe (3.0L 6cyl 6M)

Finding this car with a minimum of dealer added extras is difficult and may entail European delivery. Nonetheless, I was in a market that allowed me to shop amongst dealers. I drove a number of coupes and sports cars and failed to find a car that met this one's road handling, acceleration and overall value. The engine's quiet purr and the solid feel one gets from the steering wheel needs to be experienced and balanced against the competition at this price.

7 of 45 people found this review helpful

A great choice!

by on
Vehicle: 2012 BMW 1 Series 128i 2dr Coupe (3.0L 6cyl 6M)

I test drove 17 vehicles ... The only car with superior handling was the Cayman at 2x price. The heavy steering feel (a good thing), gives the car a planted, solid, one with the road feeling that is more livable than the razor, go cart Cayman. The exterior/ interior styling white over red is simply the best looking car out there. The 3 series is simply too big and bigger IS NOT better. $31K

9 of 29 people found this review helpful

Bmw 135i is fantastic

by on
Vehicle: 2012 BMW 1 Series 135i 2dr Coupe (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 6M)

I have been incredibly pleased with my 2012 135i since getting it three weeks ago. It is powerful,responsive and a lot of fun to drive. The 7 speed double clutch transmission is fast and smooth. I was a bit sceptical at first, as I am used to using a standard manual transmission with a manual clutch, but I am a convert now. I could never shift as smoothly or as fast as I can with the automated double clutch system. I got the navigation system, which comes with iDrive. It is very intuitive and works very well. It is very easy to change map views or enter destinations. The voice activation sis a bit iffy while driving with air conditioning on, frequently misunderstanding commands.

20 of 24 people found this review helpful

Personal fun machine.

by on
Vehicle: 2012 BMW 1 Series 128i 2dr Convertible (3.0L 6cyl 6M)

Ok, this car is pure fun, but in full disclosure I still have a luxury station wagon in the garage for guests and trips to Costco. Yes to celebrate my mid life and the fact that kid is out of the house I felt a red convertible with red interior would be a a great way to usher in this new phase in life. The car is fun, interior refined, the deep purr of the inline six is amazingly satisfying. It's everything a BMW is supposed to be. I do live in Florida and I drive it Miami-style: Top down, windows up and A/C at full blast. It get's stares, it's respectable at the stoplight and it's quick and nimble in traffic.

Talk About The 2012 1 Series

Read more about the 2012 BMW 1 Series

Gas Mileage


  • 18
  • cty
  • 28
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Identifix Reliability Ratings

Rating unavailable for this vehicle

      (No data available)
See All Ratings
Have a question? We're here to help!
Chat online with us
Email us at help@edmunds.com
*Available daily 8AM-5PM Pacific
Call us at 855-782-4711
Text us at ED411