BMW’s new 1-series might not look much different from the outside, but behind the wheel it is a totally different story.
What is it? BMW’s baby Beemer is still one of most impressive hatchbacks on the road and eight 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 the newly refreshed version has been given 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 is the BMW 116d which is powered, very confusingly, by a two litre engine. Normally the 116d would indicate a 1.6 litre diesel engine but not in this case. With a maximum output of 87kW(116bhp) it dashes from 0 to 100kms in 10.3 seconds, before reaching a top speed of 200kms. Our test car was fitted with a slick six-speed manual transmission but a new eight-speed automatic transmission is available.
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. Those in the back are not served as well and tall passengers in particular might feel short-changed for space. The new Series 1 is wider and longer than the previous model and luggage space has also been increased by 30 litres giving it a decent total capacity of 360 litres so passengers and baggage won’t be squabbling 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.
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. The BMW Urban models include 17-inch alloys and a host of stylish design details.
How about Fuel Economy? Average fuel consumption is good, the 1 series consumes 4.5 litres per 100kms. CO2 emissions of only 117g/km grams per kilometres means a band A rating for tax so an annual motor tax bill of €160.
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.
Why you’ll buy one? Brand Image; Super fuel economy; Sporty performance
Why you won’t? Expensive; Dull exterior and interior
RIVALS: VW Golf; Alfa Romeo Giulietta; Audi A3
BMW 116D URBAN
Engine: 1 995 cm3, power output: 85 kW (116 bhp) at 4 000 rpm, Max torque: 260 Nm between 1 750 and 2 500 rpm
Max speed: 200 km/h
0-100km/h: 10.3 seconds
Emissions (motor tax): 117g/Kk (€160)
Starting price: € 27,240
Model price range: € 27,240 – €41,891 (Test Car €30,800 + optional extra*, total price €31,634.74)
No of Doors: 5
Euro NCAP: 5
Fuel type: Diesel
Fuel Economy (combined cycle) 4.5 litres
Boot Capacity Seats up (seats down): 360 litres (1200)
Car Seats: Isofix points for two car seats in the back and both reasonably easy to fit.
* Valencia Orange €710.56; Rain sensor with auto. headlight activation €124.18
13 June, 2012