Jeremy Clarkson (Top Gear), and other journalists possessed a number of other complaints about the 1-series (E87) which were or are aesthetic, and have influenced sales demographics. At varying times, the 1-series has been described as having 'Bread-van' looks, or as a 'Shameless attempt by BMW to sell a badge rather than a car'. Clarkson in particular had described the average BMW 1-series owner as receiving the following assessment from his next door neighbours (on BBC's Top Gear) as 'hmm, he's bought an expensive car - he must be absolutely bonkers!' Clarkson went so far as to end his review for the Sunday Times with 'The 1-Series (E87) is Crap.'
Critical response has dramatically changed in recent years - the 1-series coupe (E82) and convertible (E88) have been described as 'returning BMW to its roots', and the 135i has been described as the spiritual successor of the original E30 M3 of the 1980s. Clarkson himself awarded the 2008 model five stars, and had the following to say: 'The 135 coupé is the best car BMW makes.' Generally, the 1 Series coupé is more popular with critics and fans than the hatchback model.
Summary - buy E82 and E88 (NOT E87)
12,000 klms and still performing brilliantly. I picked up the following motoring review conclusion online... and must say I agree.
I have just bought a 3 year old 118i and it is brilliant. It handles beautifully, has a great engine response, superb steering. The looks are breathtaking, especially in the Havana metallic colour that we have - has to be kept clean though to look good. We receive lots of comments about it, and I always want the keys for it from my wife!
We have a friend who is a professional rally driver, who also rates it as one of his favourite cars to drive out of all BMWs. Clarkson is a buffoon who is only there for ratings, he knows nothing about cars. It is an entertainment show not a serious car programme.
It reminds me very much of the Peugeot 205GTI I had back in the 90s - has that same raw feel to it. Best car I ever owned.