BMW's compact rear-wheel-drive 128i is currently the least-expensive entry point to BMW's entire lineup. Available as a coupe or convertible, the compact 1 Series occupies a space with few competitors. The Nissan 370Z, Infiniti G37 coupe and top-end versions of Detroit's muscle cars come closest to filling out the competitive slate.
The 135i is covered separately in Cars.com's Research section.
New for 2013
There are no significant changes.
On the 128i, an optional M Sport Package adds dark window frames and a more aggressive front bumper with three large air inlets. Rather than the 3 Series convertible's folding metal hardtop, the 128i convertible has a fabric soft-top that can open or close in 22 seconds, BMW says. It operates at speeds up to 25 mph.
The 1 Series remains a small car overall, about 2 inches shorter and narrower than a Scion tC. The BMW 3 Series coupe is about 10 inches longer. Exterior features include:
- 17-inch wheels standard
- Rain-sensing windshield wipers
- Fog lamps
- Chrome exhaust tips
- Available power tilt/sliding moonroof
- Optional xenon headlamps and automatic high beams
The 128i's interior design is fairly traditional, with more upright shapes than sweeping contours. Dual-zone climate controls sit below the center air vents and optional navigation system, with BMW's iDrive knob controller ahead of the center console. The system can read text messages aloud or stream songs off a paired smartphone.
The available M Sport Package adds unique headliner materials, an M-branded steering wheel and shifter, and sport seats with more aggressive side bolstering. Interior features include:
- 60/40 split folding seat (coupe models)
- Standard vinyl seats, leather optional
- Optional power seats
- Available rear parking sensors
- Optional navigation
- Optional heated seats and steering wheel
Under the Hood
BMW's inline-six-cylinder engine makes 230 horsepower and 200 pounds-feet of torque in the 128i. It works through a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic with optional steering wheel paddle shifters . The automaker says a stick-shift 128i coupe can hit 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, with the automatic making the sprint in 6.7 seconds. The M Sport Package adds a sport-tuned suspension.
If that isn't enough, consider stepping up to the 300-hp, turbocharged 135i, which is covered separately in the Cars.com Research section. It trims the zero-to-60 mph sprint down to about 5 seconds, BMW says.
Active head restraints, two-row side curtain airbags, front airbags and side-impact airbags for the front seats are all standard. So is an electronic stability system, antilock brakes and traction control. Like most convertibles, the 128i convertible does not have the curtain airbags; it does have pop-up roll bars behind the rear seats that deploy in the event of a rollover.