Having just come from a 135i convertible (with Dinan II - which actually means something there) I can safely say I understand where OP is coming from. The 1 series is definitely a throw-back to the e30/e36 days. It just plain old felt good. You could toss them around and you felt as if a part of the car like my old e36 m3. Ironically, the 135 was faster, stopped better and had about the same amount of room than my old m3.
That all having been said, my new e90 is a whole different car. Sure it's an e39 M5 in size, but it's great. It's not quite tossable, but damn near close. It's a true joy to drive. And as a bonus, I can take one more person along and half of their basement (in trunk) for a ride.
We can't have all that space, that much engine, all these new regulations and still be small. Until bmw adds option ZTRD (tardis interior) it is what it is.