Categories: News

The 4 biggest differences between the BMW 1-series and the Volkswagen Golf/Seat Leon

Auto Review is known for its comparative tests. These are super extensive, because all test cars are assessed on more than 40 parts. Below you can read the biggest differences between the BMW 1-series and the Volkswagen Group duo; the Golf and the Leon.

1. BMW 1 Series is tighter than the Leon and the Golf

As far as the outer dimensions are concerned, they do not differ much from each other. The BMW 1-series is the lowest, the Seat Leon is the longest and the Volkswagen Golf is the shortest but also the highest. In practice, this means that the Leon and the Golf offer the most interior space, both at the front and in the back. If you fold down the backrest in all hatchbacks, the Leon wins with a load volume of 1301 liters. The Golf goes up to 1237 liters and the 1-series has a capacity of only 1200 liters.

If you have big towbar plans, then also choose the models from the Volkswagen stable, because they can pull a trailer of 1300 kilos. That is 200 kilos more than the towing weight of the BMW 116iA.

2. The operation of the BMW 1 Series is the best

In Munich, on the other hand, they spend more time and attention on serving cakes. The iDrive system of the BMW 1-series, with the well-known rotary knob between the front seats, works nicely and you can always fall back on the touchscreen or the voice control. At Volkswagen and Seat, the physical push buttons were banned and you have to learn to deal with the menu in the central touchscreen. Only when you really have it under control, you ‘jump’ smoothly from the climate control to the multimedia menu and the safety systems.

3. The BMW 1 Series is the most expensive car in the test

The base prices of the BMW 116iA and the Volkswagen Golf 1.0 eTSI DSG fluctuate between 34 and 35 mille. The Seat Leon 1.0 eTSI DSG is two thousand euros cheaper. The test cars are equipped with larger wheels and better seats, so that the total prices vary from 34,000 (Seat) to 38,079 euros (BMW).

With the heavy and thirsty 1-series you also lose more money for road tax and fuel. Moreover, it is not the case that you benefit from a sky-high residual value at the end of the four-year ride; the public favorite of Volkswagen is the most valuable.

4. You want the sporty driving characteristics of the 1 Series

The BMW 116iA is the most sporty to drive, because it has the sports suspension and sports seats (both optional). The steering, brakes and accelerator are responsive and sporty. Even though there is only a 109 hp three-cylinder under the hood, the 116iA is always too quick for its competitors. He sets the fastest lap times and clocks the fastest speeds on the slalom test.

Speaking of that three-cylinder engine: In the BMW you hardly notice that you are out with a three-cylinder. That’s how impressive the sprint performance is and that’s how smooth the turning characteristics are.


The BMW 116iA is sporty, but does not offer the space or comfort of the Leon and the Golf. Reasons to choose the 1-series are the ease of use and the finish quality of the hatchback. In addition, the three-cylinder BMW is the finest engine of the bunch.

You can read the full comparison test of the BMW 1-series, the Seat Leon and the Volkswagen Golf, including all measurement data in Auto Review 10/2021.

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