BMW's small 1 Series debuts in the U.S. for 2008 as a coupe and a convertible. The base 128i is powered by an inline-six-cylinder engine that drives the rear wheels. Available in spring 2008, the 128i competes with other performance cars like the Mazda RX-8 and Nissan 350Z.
Compared to the 3 Series coupe, the 128i features a more upright grille and a C-pillar that's not as sleekly styled. A pronounced sheet metal crease runs the length of the coupe's sides, which are otherwise relatively smooth. Adaptive xenon headlights and BMW's Active Steering system, which can adjust how much the car turns for a given turn of the steering wheel, are optional.
The 128i convertible features a power-operated soft-top that BMW says can open or close in 22 seconds. The top is available in black, taupe or Moonlight Black. The Moonlight Black top features metallic fibers integrated into the material, which BMW says makes the top look silver in sunlight.
There's room for four in the 128i; front occupants sit on bucket seats and the backseat has room for two. Simulated leather seating surfaces are standard, and real leather is optional. Selecting the optional Sport Package brings sport seats with more aggressive bolstering. The convertible's leather seats have BMW's Sun Reflective Technology, which is designed to keep the temperature of seats exposed to sunlight lower.
Standard features include an auxiliary jack for connecting a portable music player to the 128i's audio system and a 60/40-split folding rear seat that can expand the coupe's trunk when carrying larger items. Choosing the optional navigation system equips the 1 Series with BMW's iDrive control system, which some find hard to use.
Under the Hood
The 128i uses a 230-horsepower, 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine that drives the rear wheels using a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
The coupe has six standard airbags, including side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags. An electronic stability system and antilock brakes are also standard. The convertible loses the side curtain airbags, but keeps the side-impact airbags and features popup roll bars.