Had a look at the 1 series coupe whilst at the dealers today. It was a silver 123d with 17" wheels. It looked ok, but I was not bowled over by it to be honest.
Sales guy v. impressed by the new diesel engine and said it was superb but his opinion was although smaller than 3 series and more the size of an E36 3 series it's not as fun as 'old school bm's' handling set-up for saftey, with traction controls, etc. I guess thats the way of the world for all manafacurers in 2007. He also said he would go for a 130i hatch over the 123d engine if you don't care about paying for fuel.
So if you have a £25k budget a basic 123d I am sure is a very nice car and will be good fun no question. Especially if you are in your 20's and can stretch to one.
I will defo have a go in a 135i next year when it's out.
My perfect car would be a car size wise between a 1 and a 3 series.
That would be a 235d then.