BMW’s premium compact hatch, the 1 series, has been given a mid-life makeover with mildly refreshed styling, equipment upgrades and some rejigging of the model names.
The entry level 118i replaces the former 116i, while the previous 118i is now the 120i.
The 118d is the sole diesel model in the range. Our test car had the optional ($1400) Urban Line pack (which includes Dakota leather trim) in lieu of the now standard Sport Line pack, and rode on optional ($1231) 17” alloys shod with 225/45 R17 runflat rubber.
New standard equipment on the 118d includes a rear-view camera, climate control, sport steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, and BMW Connected Drive including real time traffic information plus Intelligent Emergency Call function.
An eight-speed auto is now the standard gearbox on all 1-series models, though a six-speed manual box can be had as a ‘no charge option’. The auto has had some tweaks to improve efficiency and it’s a sweet match to the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine that pumps out 110kW @ 4000 rpm (up 5kW) and 320Nm @ 1500-3000rpm.
BMW claim 8.1 seconds for the 0-100 km/h sprint, the slowest time for all models except the base 1.5-litre turbo-petrol 118i. But that’s missing the point. The diesel combines parsimonious fuel consumption with a satisfying level of performance thanks to a rich vein of torque that ensures good drivability. There’s minimal lag getting off the line, and it feels equally at home in city traffic, out on the open road or being punted hard down some twisty back-road.
The powertrain has an air of refinement about it and, from inside the cabin, there’s little in the way of unpleasant noise or harshness to betray the diesel heart.
Happily, the new 1-series retains BMW’s traditional rear-drive layout and driver-focussed dynamics. Through twists and turns, the 118d feels fluid and nicely balanced, happily making quick changes of direction in response to the pleasantly weighted and accurate steering.
Rear passengers aren’t well catered for, with leg space in particular feeling cramped in the outer positions, and the centre position worse again due to the large driveline tunnel in the floorpan. Width-wise, it would feel squeezy with three adults on board.
The manufacturer quotes boot space of 360-litres and that can be expanded to handy proportions courtesy of the flat-folding 60:40 split-fold rear seatback.
(NOTE: image of 125i used for illustration).