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The top 10 BMW 1 Series alternatives

The BMW 1 Series is one of the most accomplished sporty hatchbacks on sale.

However, if you don't fancy a car that turns every drive into a sprint race, there are lots of great options beyond the little BMW. We've chosen 10 of our favourite 1 Series competitors, ideal for singles, couples or small families.

You'll find many of these models available with thousands of pounds off their brand-new price when shopping Motorpoint's huge range of used cars.

Audi A3

Audi A3 in grey

Better than a 1 Series for: rear-seat space

With competition among the German 'big three' being so fierce, it's worth looking at the 1 Series' closest rivals, starting with the Audi A3. This modern-looking family hatchback starts out strong with a little more rear leg and foot room than the BMW, plus a sizeable cargo area if you avoid the plug-in-hybrid version. It's also a little more comfortable than the BMW, without the firmness inherent to all 1 Series models, although it's ever so slightly less sharp if you decide to attack a twisty back road.

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Mercedes A-Class

Mercedes A-Class in silver

Better than a 1 Series for: luxury

The other key competitor to the 1 Series is the Mercedes A-Class. This hatch takes comfort one stage further than both the Audi and the BMW, with a noticeably more compliant ride over rough surfaces. Again, the tradeoff is more body roll and less eagerness to turn into corners but, if you're just commuting around town, you might appreciate the Mercedes' softer approach. The interior isn't quite as sturdy as the BMW's but it looks a lot more glitzy, with lots of gloss black and metal-effect trim, plus plenty of leather upholstery.

Browse used Mercedes A-Class cars


BMW X1 in white

Better than a 1 Series for: practicality

If the 1 Series' overall package appeals but its relatively small boot and rear seats mean it's too small for your needs, check out the BMW X1 SUV. Under the bodywork, it uses a lot of the same engines and parts as the 1 Series, giving it similarly composed handling but with a little extra softness to the ride that makes it a better family car choice. The cabin is much larger than its hatchback sibling with lots of space in the rear for adult passengers or bulky child seats, plus you get a far bigger boot that can handle pushchairs easily.

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SEAT Leon Cupra

SEAT Leon Cupra in blue

Better than a 1 Series for: performance

That desirable BMW badge on the 1 Series' nose does mean paying a price premium. If you can compromise on your chosen brand's cool factor, you're able to shop a much wider selection of cars. For instance, the budget for a mid-range 1 Series will also buy a range-topping SEAT Leon Cupra hot hatch. This comes with a mighty 290hp turbocharged engine and a fast-shifting automatic gearbox, taking just six seconds flat to leap from 0-62mph. The cabin isn't as posh as the BMW but the SEAT's sheer acceleration makes that easy to forget.

Check out used SEAT Leon Cupra cars for sale

Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf in yellow

Better than a 1 Series for: plug-in-hybrid power

The Volkswagen Golf is still, in many ways, the hatchback against which other family contenders must be judged. It's positioned a little lower down in the group lineup than the 1 Series' most direct rival – the Audi A3 – which means your budget will usually buy a newer or higher spec Golf than a similarly priced 1 Series. As a result, you may be able to shop the Golf's plug-in-hybrid engines – something the 1 Series doesn't even offer as an option. When equipped with the 1.4 eHybrid or GTE engine, you can cover around 40 miles on electric power alone.

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Mazda 3

Mazda 3 in silver

Better than a 1 Series for: desirability

With the BMW badge already making a strong statement, it takes a very talented car to justify shopping elsewhere. Thankfully, the Mazda 3 scores highly across the board, whether you're checking out its dramatic, swoopy bodywork, or indulging in its plush, elegant cabin. Your BMW budget will buy a high-spec Mazda 3, which means lots of expensive feeling soft-touch materials in the cabin and leather upholstery on the seats. Take it down a twisty road and you'll also find the Mazda runs the 1 Series very close for driver appeal, too.

Take a look at used Mazda 3 cars

Mini Countryman

Mini Countryman in blue

Better than a 1 Series for: cabin style

BMW won't tell you this but, underneath, the 1 Series uses a lot of the same parts and engines as cars from the Mini range. We don't think the Mini Hatchback is an obvious competitor because it's smaller than the BMW, but looking to the larger Countryman might make more sense. Despite being a very similar width and length as the BMW, the Countryman is far more practical, with lots of rear seat space and a big boot. But it's the cabin that wins the day for the Mini – it's much funkier and more exciting than the comparatively conservative 1 Series.

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Ford Focus ST

Ford Focus ST in green

Better than a 1 Series for: handling

The 1 Series is already a very sharp car, with a grippy, composed ride and an accurate, engaging front end. However, if you want great handling backed up by even more performance, check out the Ford Focus ST. This hot hatch achieves a similar trick to the BMW – feeling planted without being so firm you shake your fillings loose – but comes with a strong 280hp turbo petrol engine and a snappy manual gearbox to make the most of it. There's also a Focus ST diesel if you want punchy performance without sacrificing fuel economy.

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Lexus UX

Lexus UX in green

Better than a 1 Series for: reliability

If you're buying your car for the long haul and not just for its PCP period, consider the Lexus UX. This is marketed as a compact SUV but looks and feels more like a big hatchback, with dimensions only slightly larger than the 1 Series. The cabin is luxurious but looks slightly more old-fashioned than the screen-laden BMW. However, the thing that keeps Lexus buyers flocking back to the brand is its unimpeachable reputation for reliability. Not only will the UX save you money on maintenance, but the smooth hybrid engine keeps fuel costs low, too.

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MG 5

MG 5 in silver

Better than a 1 Series for: electric driving

If you're able to swap away from petrol power, there are several EVs available on the used market that are well within a 1 Series' budget. Among the many competent picks, it's hard to argue with the value for money offered by the MG5. This battery-powered estate car might not be as head-turning as the BMW but it comes absolutely loaded to the brim with high-tech features including adaptive cruise control and, thanks to the meaty electric motor, it leaps off the line with much more vigour than you might expect from a sensible family EV.

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Find the right small family car for you

Check out Motorpoint's huge choice of great-value nearly new and used cars. For more options, take a look at our picks for the best compact family cars and our favourite small SUVs.