What is it? BMW’s baby Beemer is still one of most impressive hatchbacks on the road and nine years since it was first launched it remains the only rear-wheel drive car in its class. The new version combines economy with some suitably beefy engines.
Who is it aimed at? Not one for those with children; this BMW is one for the single person or couple without kids. If you have yearned for the BMW badge and renowned driving dynamics but without the second mortgage then this may just be the choice for you.
Styling? The 1 series was never the most stylish BMW on the road but a revamp last year gave it a new look in the front and a tweaking of the rear lights results in a more stylishly contemporary look.
Under the Bonnet? Our test car was the BMW 114i. Normally the 114i would indicate a 1.4 petrol engine but not in this case, under the bonnet is a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. With a maximum output of 102bhp it goes from 0 to 100km/h in a leisurely 11.2 seconds, before reaching a top speed of 195km/h. Our test car was fitted with a slick six-speed manual transmission.
What’s it like inside? Inside there is an immediate sense of spaciousness and premium quality but it is quite dull interior. Head and leg room is good and the seats are firm but comfortable. As with most three door hatchbacks those in the back are not served as well and tall passengers in particular might feel short-changed for space.
On the Road? This baby BMW is smooth and assured on the road and sweeps you nimbly on your way. Through town it is effortless but it is on back roads through sweeping bends and corners that the 1 series excels, it steers and corners incredibly well. Our test car with the 114i engine does at times feel a little underpowered and you need to work it harder than its bigger siblings but at low speeds and around town the differences are virtually unnoticeable,
And Safety? The 1 series scored well in Euro NCAP’s crash test gaining the maximum five stars. In addition to the safety “must-have” items there are also a raft of electronic systems to increase safety.
Options? There is a choice of four trims. These are ES, SE, Sport and Urban. The base model ES model is well-equipped with leather steering wheel, chrome exhaust and keyless entry. SE models add extras including Bluetooth hands-free with USB audio interface, multi-function leather steering wheel with a speed limiting function. Sport models gain 17-inch alloy wheels and inside benefit from sport seats and a high gloss black interior trim.
How about Fuel Economy? Average fuel consumption is good, the 1 series consumes 5.5 litres per 100kms so it’s the most fuel efficient petrol model in the line up. CO2 emissions of 132g/km grams per kilometres means a band B2 rating for tax so an annual motor tax bill of €280.
Okay so the verdict? BMW’s smallest offering is still one of most impressive hatchbacks on the road. It may be dull inside and out but it is one of the most engaging cars to drive. With the new fuel efficient engines the 1 series offers a supreme blend of performance and economy. The 114i is by no means our pick of the engines; while it may make sense to some buyers we still reckon the frugal diesels are hard to beat.
Why you’ll buy one? Brand Image; fuel economy; price
Why you won’t? laboured performance; Dull exterior and interior
RIVALS: VW Golf; Volvo V40; Audi A3
BMW 114i SPORT
Engine: 1 598cc, power output: 75kW (102 bhp) at 4 000 rpm, Max torque: 180 Nm between 1100 rpm
Max speed: 195km/h
Emissions (motor tax): 132g/km (€280)
Starting price: € 27,240
Model price range: €26,310 – €50,830 (Test Car €29,461.91 + optional extra*, total price €34,211.25)
No of Doors: 5
Euro NCAP: 5
Fuel type: Petrol
Fuel Economy (combined cycle) 5.5 litres
Car Seats: Isofix points for two car seats in the back and both reasonably easy to fit.
5th June, 2013