The 1-Series was a departure from the norm for BMW what it was launched in 2004 - it was their first attempt at a "premium" hatchback to rival Audi's A3 and the Volkswagen Golf. Unusually for the class, BMW decided to retain the rear-wheel drive layout of their larger cars, rather than opting for the more conventional front-wheel drive setup of its competitors. What the 1-Series lost in boot space and rear legroom as a result (which was a lot, incidentally), it made up for with a sharp and involving drive. The ride was a bit firm, and it's hardly a looker - but that didn't stop the 1-Series from becoming one of the company's most popular models. The latest 1-Series was launched in 2012 - it's still pretty dear for its size, but improves on the first generation model in every area.