The F20 1 Series 116i M Sport manual was my second petrol turbo, previously I owned the Astra J 1.4 turbo.
The Astra felt faster but was much heavier on fuel, I averaged 9.4l/100km with it and I averaged 7.9l/100kms with the Bimmer.
The Bimmer is very comfortable for a car with a sport suspension and 18 inch rims. The low seating position and thick steering wheel give it a sporty feel. In my view it is the best seating position in its class.
The car also has different driving modes which took me a while to spot the difference between them. Eco Pro is excellent for saving fuel but dulls up the performance. Comfort is the best mode for me, the car feels just right. Sport mode transforms the car when pushed, it makes it feel like a completely different animal but is extremely heavy on fuel. Sport Plus gives the car a rear wheel drive feel where you can play with the car a bit. 90 percent of the time I used comfort mode.
The handling is excellent on smooth surfaces, I have driven a lot of hatchbacks and in my view only the Ford Focus competes in this department, the Bimmer is better than most rivals when it comes to handling. The only issue is that loses composure in bumpy curves, it becomes floatty and unsettled a bit.
The steering is nice and heavy at low speeds and when driving around town, it becomes lighter as you move faster. I found the steering very inconsistent, sometimes it gave good feedback around corners and sometimes it gave you absolutely no feedback, I found this very strange.
My issues with the vehicle are that it did not have a rear centre armrest and cup holders for the rear passengers. This drove me crazy. The second issue is the rear legroom, there is just not enough space for four tall passengers to sit comfortably in the car. Another issue is that whenever there was heavy rains and flooding the power steering and flat tyre detector would malfunction. By the time you take the car to BMW the faults have cleared and they cannot help you, I found it very frustrating. My other issue issue is that the paddles and steering were slightly offset, I only felt this in long distances when I started to feel tired. The last issue is wind noise, when I first bought it I thought the windows were to properly closed and I kept trying to close them, its just excessive.
Generally I love the car and I had a lot of fun driving it, the engine opens up the more you drive it and by the time I sold it for my F30 3 Series it felt much faster than a 100 KW car. I hope BMW keeps it rear wheel drive as I believe a front wheel drive 1 series will be a disaster but the non enthusiasts will buy it anyway.