BMW's 1 Series is the only rear wheel drive small hatchback on the market and it manages to retain all the verve and fun of the 3 Sseries it's based on.
It's about the size of a Ford Focus and is probably the cheapest way to own a BMW.
Even the lowest powered petrol model built between 2011 and 2015, the 100bhp 1.6 petrol, offers plenty of fun, and other petrol engines in the range just get better and better but are obviously less economical.
That 1.6 is also available with 134bhp, and there is a later 1.5 with the same power. Higher up the range is a 2.0-litre with 180 to 220bhp and a 3.0-litre with over 300bhp.
BMW's diesels are excellent as well of course, although the purity of the driving experience is not quite up to the same mark.
Diesel models range up from a 1.5 unit with 114bhp and an older 1.6 with 93, to 2.0-litre units with between 114 and 220bhp.
The handling is brilliant in all and the road-holding is superb. Make no mistake, this is a pure drivers' car but in a smaller BMW package, with all the tremendous balance and verve of the bigger cars.
The 1 Series is so sought after that prices remain high secondhand but again, if you have to go for a year older car to get what you want, and you make sure to buy one with full service history, good reliability means you‘ll be unlikely to have any problems.
This model has a better dash, upgraded trim and a host of new design details, which make the interior feel a lot more upmarket.
Other family hatches have more boot space, so make sure it has enough for your needs, but the interior is comfortable for four.
A high quality BMW cabin - albeit mainly in sombre black - is a great place to spend time, and since most will have added spec from the original owner, equipment should be excellent.
But the base ES is poorly equipped as standard, with aircon, start stop, alarm and traction control, along with folding rear seats, excellent seat adjustment and the usual electric windows and mirrors and remote locking.
If you're thinking of buying a diesel, which will be a lot more expensive secondhand, remember that it can take a few years to break even over petrol models these days.
Pay about Â£8,000 for a '12 12-reg 116i SE five door, or Â£11,600 for a '14 14-reg ES five door.