The BMW 1 Series is a small hatchback (Supermini) produced by BMW since 2004. Today we are going to compare it with its older executive brother the BMW 3 Series that has been around since 1975. We are going to compare their engines, body types, exterior and interior features, plus their practicality.
BMW 1 Series vs BMW 3 Series Side-By-Side Comparison
(*Prices are reflective of average BE FORWARD pricing as of March 2021)
BMW 1 Series BMW 3 Series
Generations 3 ((E81, 82, 87, 88), (F20/F21), F40) 7 (E21, E30, E36, E46, E90-93, F30-35, G20)
Production Year 2004 – Present 1975 – Present
Performance 134 HP – 335 HP 248 HP – 342 HP
Fuel Consumption 14 KM/L – 26 KM/L 10.4 KM/L – 13.2 KM/L
Drivetrain RWD & AWD RWD & AWD
Key Features CD Player, Power Steering, Airbag, Power Window,
Radio, A/C, ABS, DVD, Back Camera,
Radio, CD Player, Airbag, Power Steering, Power
Window, A/C, ABS, Keyless Entry,
Seating Capacity 5 Passengers 5 Passengers
BE FORWARD price US$ 950 – US$ 36,320 US$ 800 – US$ 58,070
BMW 1 Series
The interior of the 1 Series cannot be mistaken, it’s that of a true BMW, very well finished with a sporty theme. The center console is a bit angled towards the driver with an 8.8-inch screen at the top of the dash that is equipped with BMW’s native iDrive infotainment system that gives access to a range of content such as vehicle settings, journey data, video entertainment, servicing, tire pressure, music, navigation, and more. Connecting features such as Bluetooth, smartphone syncing, and others are also included. The iDrive system can be operated via the touchscreen or the rotary dial on the center console.
The 1 Series has enough legroom and headroom for the front occupants, but the same can’t be said for the rear passengers. At the rear, space is a bit limited, legroom and headroom are not good enough especially when the rear seat has three occupants, as the middle seat is affected by the raised transmission tunnel.
The 1 Series has several storage compartments and a boot that can hold up to 360-liters with the rear seats in place, and 1200-liters with seats folded down.
The 1 Series standard (SE) comes fitted with BMW’s Live Cockpit Plus system which consists of an 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with built-in satellite navigation.
At the front, the 1 Series features a horizontal long bonnet that tends to make it look larger than it actually is, accompanied by the large kidney grilles and sleek xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights.
Other external features include fog lamps, chrome exhaust tips, and alloy wheels. The Sport and M Sport models have some other extra features and tweaks.
The 1 Series has a good safety rating, it received a 5-star rating from the Euro NCAP, and comes with several safety features such as four airbags, two ISOFIX mounting points, City Collision Mitigation, Attentiveness Assistant, Collision Warning, Forward Lane Departure Warning, Preventive Pedestrian Protection, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go, and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
BMW 3 Series
The BMW 3 Series is available in two trims, the 330i and the 340i. You can choose from the three available body styles namely the sedan, Sports Wagon, and the Gran Turismo (hatchback-style). The 3 Series’ interior is lavish and stylish with synthetic leather upholstery and power-adjustable front seats as standard, while on the high-end trims you get genuine leather upholstery, heated front, and rear seats, and a heated steering wheel. The front seats are comfortable and supportive with plenty of head and legroom, enough to fit even the tallest adults, a feat that applies in the rear as well.
The 3 Series Sedan comes with an 8.8-inch infotainment display, with BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant, HD Radio, and 10 speakers as standard. The Sports Wagon and Gran Turismo come with a 6.5-inch infotainment display with 9 speakers as standard. The high-end trims come with a 10.2-inch infotainment display, navigation system, a Wi-Fi hot spot, Apple CarPlay (subscription), wireless device charging, satellite radio, and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system.
Other features depending on model and trim include BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional with a 12.3-inch display, a large head-up display that displays speed, route instructions speed limits, warning indicators, navigation data, and more onto the windshield. On the center console, you find the iDrive knob, driving modes button, and engine start.
The 3 Series is available in 3 body styles. The Sedan, the Sports Wagon, and the Gran Turismo. The Sedan as the name implies is just a normal sedan body, the Sports Wagon has a Wagon style body with plenty of interior space, while the Gran Turismo features a hatchback-like body offering plenty of interior luggage space. All these models come with 18-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights.
The 3 Series has a good safety and crash test rating from both the NHTSA and IIHS. Standard safety features include a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, speed limit info, head-up display, surround-view parking camera system, active parallel, and perpendicular park assist, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and daytime pedestrian monitoring.
Engine and Fuel Efficiency Comparison
BMW 1 Series
The 1 Series is fitted with one of the below engines.
- A turbocharged 134 HP 1.5-liter, 3-cylinder, petrol, with a fuel economy of 21 KM/L.
- A turbocharged 147 HP 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder diesel, with a fuel economy of 26 KM/L.
- A turbocharged 181 HP 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, petrol, with a fuel economy of 17 KM/L.
- A turbocharged 221 HP 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder petrol, with a fuel economy of 16 KM/L.
- A turbocharged 335 HP 3.0-liter 6-cylinder petrol, with a fuel economy of 14 KM/L.
Power to the wheels is transferred via an eight-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission.
BMW 3 Series
The BMW 3 Series comes fitted with the below engines.
- The twin-turbo 255 HP 2.0-liter 4-cylinder petrol with fuel economy of 13.2 KM/L
- The turbocharged 248 HP 2.0-liter 4-cylinder petrol with fuel economy of 11.9 KM/L
- The turbocharged 382 HP 3.0-liter 6-cylinder petrol with fuel economy of 10.4 KM/L
Power to the wheels is transferred via an 8-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission.
The BMW 1 Series and 3 Series are highly relevant cars in their respective categories as they are by far excellent cars in many respects. They both feature some turbocharged engines which are efficient and modern, with generous equipment levels even on standard models. The 1 Series and 3 Series are rear-wheel drive as standard, and this makes them drive beautifully. Their interior finishing is plush, but as expected the 1 Series is not as plush as the 3 Series, the 3 Series is an executive car, and executive cars are built to be plush. The 1 Series is much smaller than the 3 Series, and these two models were built to cater for different functions, so if you need a car for urban use, then go for the 1 Series, but if you need something exclusive and spacious, then the 3 Series will be a great choice.
Written by: Samuel H. Mponezya