Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair?

Arvind · Nov 1, 2021 10:59 AM

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 01

The BMW 1 Series is somewhat of an anomaly to the BMW range in Malaysia.

The 1 Series is envisioned as an entry model to the rest of the BMW range, but with prices almost nudging those of the seminal 3 Series, the 1 Series found lesser popularity amongst Malaysian buyers.

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 02

Which would you buy as your first BMW?

Moreover, as opposed to BMW’s sedan and SUV models, the 1 Series doesn’t quite conjure the same X-factor rating as buying a 3 Series (or an X1 for that matter) as your first BMW.

It doesn’t help too that, it goes up against established rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI and MINI Cooper which also retail for about the same money.

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 01

However, if you look past the face value – the 1 Series has much to offer. For one it is a well-equipped, superbly practical hatchback that offers a sublime driving experience given its front-engined, rear-wheel drive layout.

Let’s take a closer look at the F20 BMW 1 Series.

The F20 1 Series variants offered in Malaysia.

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 02

The F20 1 Series was first launched in Malaysia in 2013. At the outset, it was offered in five variants across two different engines.

The following table simplifies the variant offerings in Malaysia.

(Pre-facelift) BMW F20 1 Series range in Malaysia (brand new)
Variant  Engine Power (PS / Nm) Price (RM)
116i (N13) 1.6L Turbo  138 / 220 170,800
118i Sport / Urban (N13) 1.6L Turbo  172 / 250 190,800
125i Sport / M Sport (N20) 2.0L Turbo  220 / 310 238,800 / 253,800

The 1 Series was offered with a comprehensive safety and equipment list that six airbags, ABS, stability control, front foglamps, LED DRLs, rear park distance control, Driving Experience Control, auto start/stop and trademark iDrive controller.

In all variants, the BMW 1 Series is supplied with a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission.

Also read: RM 15k buys you the best BMW 5 Series, the E39. How much to maintain and repair?

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 03

BMW F20 118i Sport LCI interior pictured

In typical BMW fashion, then further up the range you go, there are more equipment and accessories that add a touch of aggression and sportiness.

In the case of the top-spec 125i M Sport variant, it receives a complete body kit consisting of front and rear bumpers as well as side skirts, sports suspension, Estoril Bue interior highlights and an 8.8-inch Navigation System Professional infotainment unit (the rest are fitted with 6.5-inch units).

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 04

All variants except the 125i M Sport are fitted with 17-inch wheels, the 125i M Sport on the other hand gets 18-inch 5-spoke M alloys wrapped in staggered 225/40 (front) and 245/35 (rear) tyres.

(Facelift) BMW F20 1 Series range in Malaysia (brand new)
Variant  Engine Power (PS / Nm) Price (RM)
120i M Sport (N20) 1.6L turbo  180 / 250 219,800
118i Sport (B38) 1.5L turbo 138 / 220 188,800
118i M Sport (B38) 1.5L turbo  138 / 220 188,800

In 2015, BMW Malaysia introduced the facelifted (LCI) F20. The major highlight of the LCI was a comprehensively redesigned front end. Gone were the divisive ‘Angry Bird’ eyes, in place, were sleeker headlamps, reshaped kidney grille, and a contoured front bumper.

At launch, only one variant was made available the locally-assembled BMW 120i M Sport priced at RM219,800.

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 05

BMW 'B38' 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine pictured

Later in 2015, BMW Malaysia added a new variant to the range, dubbed the 118i Sport, priced at RM189k, which packaged the newly-developed B38 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine that produced 138 PS and 220 Nm of torque. The 118i replaced the older turbocharged 1.6-litre 116i and 118i models.

The 120i M Sport was later discontinued in 2016

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 06

In 2017, BMW Malaysia launched the 118i M Sport which received the characteristic M Sport exterior and interior appointments, but at the same prices as the previous 118i Sport (RM189k) courtesy of EEV incentives.

The 118i M Sport soldiered on until early 2018, when sales of the F20 generation were discontinued.

Why should I consider a BMW 1 Series?

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 07

The F20 marked the end of an era of utilising rear-wheel drive in the 1 Series.

BMW dropped RWD in favour of front- or all-wheel drive in the F40 successor, thus, the F20 offers a driving experience quite unlike any other premium hatchback, which are otherwise only front-wheel driven.

It’s light, punchy, and superbly balanced given its layout, making it a very appealing driver’s car for an enthusiast driver.

Also read: Buying your first BMW: From RM 15k, a used E46 BMW 3 Series is a perfect starter’s choice

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 08

Besides that, it is also practical – given it’s a four-door hatchback with a decently sized boot (360 litres), it can also appeal to owners who want a compact yet premium vehicle that is easy to drive around town.

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 09

Also, given the F20 1 Series didn’t sell in very great numbers – it also looks more unique, when compared to say… a 3 Series, which are far more common on Malaysian roads.

Used market prices of the F20 BMW 1 Series

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 10

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 11

Decent leg and headroom even at the back

Given the F20 1 Series is not particularly old, having just completed its lifecycle – used units range from early 2013 units all the way to 2018 units that still have manufacturer warranties.

Pre-facelift 2013-2015 units start at just above RM 45k for early 116i models and rise up to RM 85k for late model 125i Sport units.

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 12

BMW F20 LCI 118i Sport pictured

Facelift (LCI) units range between RM 80k for early 2015-units (118i Sport) all the way to RM 135k for the 2018 (118i M Sport) units.

In analysing the prices – the 1 Series offer rather good value retention for a BMW, comparable or even better to that of the 3 Series. Most units on sale retain up to 55 percent of original value after 5 years.

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 13

At the time of writing, there is one Carsome Certified BMW F20 1 Series unit on sale. 

All Carsome Certified vehicles come with 'Carsome Promise' which includes 175-point inspection, professional car reconditioning, all-inclusive and at a fixed price.

If you're not happy, the deal includes a 5-day money-back guarantee and a 1-year warranty.

Which F20 1 Series variant should I buy?

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 14

Buyers looking for performance should put their money on the pre-facelift 118i (with 172 PS) or the uncommon 125i which delivers a Golf GTI rivalling 220 PS. The N20-engined 125i is also easily tuneable to offer up to 250 PS with bolt-on parts from a reputable tuner.

However, the newer and snazzier looking post-facelift F20s are the one to go for better looks and better fuel efficiency given it is powered by BMW’s newer B38 mill.

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 15

Despite its small 1.5-litre displacement, the B38 engined 118i models offer decent power and acceleration for daily use and are superbly agile given the lack of weight, also doubling up as a fun and characterful driving machine.

The basic costs do not differ by much save the road tax, which is cheaper on the 1.5- and 1.6-litre variants (RM 90) versus the 125i 2.0-litre (RM 380).

Common problems with the F20 1 Series

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 16

The older N13 (Prince) engine – which was co-developed with Peugeot, is more prone to oil leaks. In addition to that, buyers also have to look out for other common symptoms of engine vibration which could be a sign of unhealthy injectors or worn engine mounts.

Oil-related leaks in all three engines featured in the 1 Series is using substandard engine oils as well as delayed or skipped maintenance intervals, thus a proper service history is mandatory to acquire a good used unit.

Besides this, there are cases of Engine Control Unit (ECU) failure in the pre-facelift 116i and 118i (N13 engined) models. 

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 17

Today, an ECU can be repaired instead of being replaced with a costly new unit. Image

In speaking with John from ECU Tech Malaysia, it is now possible to diagnose and repair the ECU at a substantially lower cost than replacing a new ECU.

The most common causes of ECU malfunctions are caused by electrical component failure, voltage spikes and/or water damage. 

Here’s a shortlist of the common problems of the pre-facelift 1 Series

BMW F20 1 Series pre-facelift common problems
Part Symptoms Cost
(RM)
Engine mounts Increased engine vibration  1,400
Ignition coils  Engine vibration / lumpy idle timing 250 / piece
Throttle body Lumpy idle / loss of engine response 300 (service)
Airflow meter Loss of power / lumpy idle 1,000
Turbo system Turbo leaks / malfunction 3,500
Crankshaft sensor Engine malfunction 900
Lower arms (front) Increased roadshock 1,500

The facelift 1 Series LCI is relatively new; B38 engines are known to be generally reliable besides some cases of turbo and gasket leaks.

There are isolated cases of power steering module failure in certain markets but thus far little is known about these failures here. 

We have nonetheless, listed the aforementioned issues in the table below:

BMW F20 1 Series facelift common problems
Part Symptoms Cost
(RM)
Engine mounts Increased engine vibration 1,600
Lower arm Increased roadshock / tramilining 1,500
Turbo system Turbo leaks / malfunction 3,800

There are well-documented issues of the timing chain failures in the N20 (as fitted in the 125i) engine caused by weak/brittle timing chain guides.

For the most part, these issues typically affected (North American market vehicles) with the '28i' suffix and not predominantly in the F20 1 Series. BMW introduced a technical update in early-2015 which reportedly solved the issue.

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 18

Timing chain failure was mostly reported in the US, and mostly affected '28i' models. Image

If at all, this issue may only affect the pre-2015 125i models, so it's wise to get the timing chain inspected prior to purchase. 

Conclusion

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 19

BMW E36 3 Series Compact 'Ti' pictured

It’s perhaps lesser-known that BMW has had a relatively long lineage of hatchback models – starting with the BMW E36 3 Series ‘Ti’ model that stretched back to the mid-90s. In most cases, it was a similar-looking but cheaper alternative to the typical 3 Series sedan models.

The 1 Series was in many ways, is a subset of models that grew into a model range of its own, and thus, the F20 can be considered the swansong, end of the line, of the rear wheel driven hatchbacks from BMW.

Used 5-year old F20 BMW 1 Series for under RM80k – How much to maintain and repair? 20

Regardless if you buy into the romance of the story, it doesn’t draw away from the fact that the F20 1 Series is a massively capable driving machine, and one that is perhaps more unique than models costing more.

Besides that, it’s also a reasonably spacious and practical hatchback, which makes it a viable alternative to Volkswagen Golf, MINI Cooper or even a brand-new Toyota Yaris, which costs around the same.

Used Honda Civic (FD) for under RM50k - How much to maintain and repair? 15

For peace of mind, give your BMW F20 1 Series the proper care it deserves with GoCar Garage. Operated by the Tan Chong group and based in Petaling Jaya, GoCar Garage offers a manufacturer level service experience, but it's open for all makes and models. 

Also read: Used Honda Civic FB for under RM 65k – Newer and better than the Civic FD, how much to maintain and repair?

Also read: Used E60 BMW 5 Series for under RM 35k. Common problems and how much to repair?

Arvind

Writer

Arvind can't remember a time when he didn't wheel around a HotWheels car. This love evolved into an interest in Tamiya and RC cars and finally the real deal 1:1 scale stuff. Passion finally lead to formal training in Mechanical Engineering. Instead of the bigger picture, he obsesses with the final drive ratio and spring rates of cars and spends the weekends wondering why a Perodua Myvi is so fast.

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