Don’t be fooled. Underneath the second-generation 1 Series’ conservative clothing lies BMW’s magic engineering equation: RWD + 50/50 weight distribution = a hoot to drive.
Front-drive cars have more cabin space and are very capable on road, but if you’re an enthusiastic driver, there’s still nothing to match the sensation of using the accelerator to balance a RWD car through a bend. Especially if they have the sharp steering and a perfectly matched new engine the 118i has.
No, BMW’s boot-lid badges stopped making sense a long ago. Okay, with the entry level 316i, you get a 1.6-litre petrol; but with the 118i you get that same capacity with more turbo boost, so more power and torque. The top-spec 125i has a two-litre engine . . . but the two-litre diesel, on the other hand, gets a 118d badge. Confused? Us too.What’s standard?
Lots, actually. Start/Stop and brake energy regeneration to improve fuel use, brake-pad wear indicator, keyless ignition and Driver Experience control, which toggles the drivetrain between economy, comfort and sport modes. All the standard safety acronyms are present and accounted for. You don’t get the brilliant 8-speed auto though, and you’ll want to fork over the extra $3K for that.
It’s a German car, so many expensive boxes can be ticked, but BMW’s made your life easier by grouping most of the popular choices into two bundles. With Sport Line and Urban Line you get different badging, wheels, cosmetic and upholstery touches for a pretty reasonable $1600.
So is it an entry-level cheapie or a proper premium car?
The latter. The previous generation’s cabin wasn’t completely convincing, but the new 1 Series uses top-shelf materials throughout. Back passengers benefit from increased room too. But most of all, the 118i is about the drive. Attack a corner and you’ll be wearing the same satisfied grin as the bloke in the high end 3 or 5 Series, for a fraction of the price.
– Bruce Ritchie
|How safe?||How thirsty?||How clean?||How much?|
|Five star ANCAP||5.8L/100km||137g/km (CO2)||$42,800|