If you value really well balanced handling and rear wheel drive it'd be a good bet.
If you are after more room, damn good handling (though front wheel drive) better equipment and just about as good build quality a Focus could suit you.
All IMHO of course.
I am not a big fan of the 1 series, but only for aesthetic reasons as I have no idea how they drive.
It all rather depends on what you want it for, but I would suggest that some of the medium size Volvo diesels would be a better bet, especially if you would like the back to have a bit more room for passengers and luggage.
Jimbo, I have had one for 4 years. A 54 plate 120d SE
It's a brilliant car, bigger than you think and mine does 58 mpg each weekend on the 720 mile round trip. Service costs aren't bad and the BMW ownership experience is like no other, the way you are treated in the showroom and servicedesk is a thousand miles above and beyond anywhere else.
The drive shits all over the A3, CLC, Focus, Golf etc and despite being a diesel it is extremely quick, superb on the motorway and comfortable at any speed.
Two things though, there are no cupholders if you get the centre armrest and get rid of the runflat tyres and replace with decent normal ones for a better ride.
Granted, it is not quite to 3 series and 5 series standards but again the build quality is far superior to it's competitors. If you like tacky plastic, stear clear and by a Focus or a civic.
I am in the process of buying anew car but the missus is having the beemer as we loved it.
As a small car, I can't recommend it highly enough.