BMW PUTS ITS SUPER-CLEAN NEW ENGINES IN ITS PERT THREE-DOOR 1-SERIES BUT THE OUTCOME UNDERWHELMS
There are two parts to this test so bear with me, please. The first thing we have to deal with is this 118i being a three-door, the latest 1-Series derivative to hit the streets following the five-door’s launch in early 2005.
It paves the way for future coupé and convertible models as the 1-Series blossoms into a full range of small-on-the-outside-small-on-the-inside executive cars and while it’s certainly a little sportier than the five-door version it’s really no better or worse looking overall. Where you will notice a difference, however, is in terms of packaging – the rear seats are already tight in five-door models but in three-door versions they’re now both cramped and inaccessible. It’s almost a 2+2 in three-door guise and definitely isn’t for family buyers so if you have any intention of ever using the back seats then go for the five-door or, better yet, get a nearly new 318i instead.
The second part of the test has to do with the 1-Series’ engine. As a way to counter CO2 emission regulations and improve economy BMW has adopted all sort of clever technologies, including high-tech batteries and auxiliary systems that decouple themselves when not in use. It has also included a start-and-stop system on its four-cylinder engines that will cut the car out when you stop it, put it into neutral and let the clutch out, restarting again when you depress the clutch.
The official figures speak for themselves, with a fuel efficiency figure more like that of a small diesel and a commendably low CO2 figure of 140g/km, but in the real world the 118i’s engine isn’t as brilliant as it seems. For a start, it’s a tax-unfriendly 2.0-litre engine but despite this it is a very lethargic performer. It’s also a really longwinded process to get the engine to turn off, so that function won’t be used out in the real world as often as BMW thinks and, to top it all off, it sounds like a tractor that’s about to throw a valve. So, as a three-door it’s not much cop and its new start-and-stop engine is also a bit of a dud. Oh, and it’s expensive, too. Good job it’s beautifully made, fun to drive and rather interesting looking from every angle bar the rear, or we’d have very few nice things to say about it.
BMW 118i M-Sport 3-door
Engine 2.0 litre 4-cylinder, 143hp
190Nm torque Transmission 6-speed manual
Acceleration 0-100km/h 8.7 seconds
Top speed 209km/h
Economy 5.8 litres/100 km
CO2 Emissions 140g/km
Boot Capacity 330
Litres Base Price €40,700
Price as Tested €43,690