The second-generation BMW 1-series, the firm’s smallest model (for now). It remains rear-wheel drive, and prices kick off below the £20K mark. The 118i we’ve driven starts at £21,985, and it’s currently the most powerful petrol 1-series.
Engine and perforance
The 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine in the 118i combines 168bhp/184lb ft performance with 48mpg/137g/km economy.
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The 1-series range gains Drive Performance Control, which gives you different ‘modes’ to choose from. There’s Comfort – the standard setting – and Sport – which sharpens the steering, throttle and suspension. ECO PRO helps save fuel by adjusting throttle response and limiting use of the air-con, heated mirrors and seats. You’ll want Comfort or Sport if you plan on getting anywhere fast, though.
What’s it like to drive?
Unfortunately, fairly plain for now. The key controls are all very well thought out – the steering is electric, but well weighted, while the six-speed manual is a pleasure to use and deems the £1600 eight-speed automatic option a needless luxury. Grip levels are high and body control is good, and you can carry plenty of speed through corners. You won’t be having bundles of fun, though; we’ll have to wait for more powerful engines for the new 1-series to feel like a hot hatch.
The engine does a good job on paper of mixing brisk pace with palatable fuel and tax bills, but it can feel like a naturally aspirated unit at times, needing revs to flourish. That’ll quickly slice your mpg numbers, and there’s scant aural reward for wringing the engine out. Again, pokier, more interesting engines are surely around the corner.
The Audi A3 and Mercedes A-class, the 1-series’ most obvious premium rivals, are both long in the tooth now, with replacements due in the next couple of years. The Volkswagen Golf feels as high quality as the 1-series nowadays, and is a fun drive; £21,895 buys you a 158bhp 1.4-litre TSI which feels quicker and will offer better economy in the real world.
Anything else I need to know?
You’ve a choice of ‘Urban’ or ‘Sport’ trims; the latter gets different alloys and sports suspension, the former, which we drove here, gets questionable white wheels and mirror caps. Our advice is to go ‘Sport’.
Price and release date
The BMW 118i Urban is available now for £21,985.
|Engine||In-line 4-cyl, 1598cc, turbocharged|
|Max power||168bhp @ 4800rpm|
|Max torque||184lb ft @ 1500rpm - 4500rpm|
|0-60||7.4 seconds (claimed)|