- We like...High-performance, economical engine
- We don't...Cramped rear seats
Baby beemer is clever, classy and good to drive. It's costly, thoughThe 1-series may be the smallest BMW you can buy. But, if you go for the 123d model that we sampled, it is very clever.
Clever because its 2.0 diesel engine uses two turbochargers - one little, one big - to produce a whacking 201bhp. This makes this pint-sized two-door coupe extremely rapid. But there’s a lot more to tell than just its cracking pace. Because it’ll return an exceptional 53.4mpg overall, while its CO2 output is low at 138g/km. Having cake, and eating it? You bet.
Aside from that, it is a lovely car to drive. The front seats in the Sport hug you closely (though they might pinch your sides if you’re broad) and adjust their bases for length and rake as well as height and fore-aft. Add in the wide range of steering adjustment up-down and to-fro and the spot-on position is there for you to find.
The restless ride that dogs the 1-series hatchback dsn’t make itself felt here. This BMW is still firm over the bumps, perhaps too firm for some, but there’s enough ‘give’ for it to be bearable. And the car changes direction with all the alertness you’d want but with none of the nervousness that such tuned responses might also bring. In short, it’s just right, as are the beautifully weighted pedals and transmission.
You pay handsomely for such top-drawer engineering, though. This car in standard form costs the high side of £26,000. And if you plump for the red leather seats, cabin embellishments and built-in satellite navigation of our test car, you’ll be looking at scant change from £30,000. This is enough of a sum to tempt you away and into a BMW 3-series Coupe – to our minds, a better buy.
Still, if small suits you best, it’s a likeable enough car. The BMW DNA shows strongly in its sculpted sides and scooped profile, although the Sport’s 18in alloys look almost too big for the body.
A high tail means the boot is generous, although a big space under the floor is taken by the car’s battery. That means there’s nowhere for a spare, so BMW provide run-flat tyres. Inside, there’s space in the back for only two, because a hefty transmission tunnel cuts through the cabin. Headroom in the rear is reasonable but legroom isn’t, so even children will find their knees pressing against the front seats.
The dash has all the hallmarks of bigger BMWs took, although on close inspection you’ll find that some of the plastics used may look high-tone but feel hard and cheap.
It’s a clever car and a classy one. If you rarely if ever need space for more than one passenger and want a car that’s compact, quick and sassy, it’s for you. But, before you buy, we’d also try a 3-series Coupe. For us, the extra space and even better drive would sway our money its way.
- Engines2.0 twin-turbodiesel
- 0-60 mph7.1sec
- Insurance groups14
Motors.co.uk value verdict: