Test Drives - BMW 1 Series 120d

We road test the latest offering from BMW and continue to be impressed

Before BMW started shoehorning their lusty six-cylinder 3.0-litre engines into the 1 Series, the 120d was the quickest version available. Today, it’s still quicker still cleaner and more economical, with near 60mpg economy.

Company car buyers will doubtless prick up their ears when they realise that this car can cruise economically, retain a good slug of its initial purchase price and emit a mere 129g/km of carbon dioxide. This outstanding performance and economy has been achieved in part through the respective use of BMW’s High Precision Direct Injection technologies.

At �20,075 for three doors and �22,560 for five (for the SE version most will probably choose), it’s certainly not the cheapest. However, what you get is the engineering integrity and overall feeling that BMW just understands how to build a sporting car better than anybody else in this sector.

Things aren’t all ambrosia however. Open one of the narrow back doors and you’ll spot the trade off right away. There’s less room in the back of the 1 Series than you’ll find in a supermini like a Honda Jazz. With a six-footer behind the wheel, legroom is shockingly bad and the transmission tunnel means that you won’t ever want to travel piggy in the middle on the rear bench. That’s not what the 1 Series is all about. If you want a practical car, go and buy a mini-MPV. If you want the latest urban bauble that will turn heads, the 1 Series will be more your thing. At a stroke it manages to make the Audi A3 in particular look ridiculously staid.

BMW’s designers have refreshed the styling. The 1 Series now features a larger kidney grille for improved airflow to the engine. The headlamp cluster remains the same size but a darker cover gives a subtle, more distinguished front end. At the rear a restyled bumper gives the impression of a wider, lower car.

The rear lamp cluster now features a new arrangement of lights, but retains its original shape. Many rivals rely on badge equity to justify their premium pricing with no real USP to speak of. BMW has the market in rear wheel drive luxury hatches taped. Value is relative and beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but on a purely objective basis the 120d has no peers.

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