BMW 125i M-Sport review - price, specs and 0-60 time

The BMW 125i gets a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Is it still worthy of the badge?

Evo rating
Price
from £26,070
  • Good handling, strong performance and decent economy
  • Uninspiring sound track, rarely feels rear-driven

Don’t be fooled by the boot badge: this isn’t a 1-series with a creamy smooth six-cylinder engine under the bonnet of the sort the ‘25i’ branding would have led you to expect even a couple of years ago. Sorry, this is another turbocharged four, with the 125i getting the same 2-litre unit that’s fitted to BMW’s ‘20i’ and ‘28i’ badged cars, but in an intermediate 218bhp state of tune.

Meaning that, apart from the M135i, it’s the most powerful model in the current 1-series line up; this is also our first chance to sample the 1-series in M-Sport spec.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to our exclusive new offer and SAVE 39% on the shop price, get evo for its original cover price of £3.00 an issue, plus get a FREE gift worth £20!

Engine and performance

There’s not a huge amount more to say about the engine: this is the same four-cylinder turbo motor that’s already appeared in the 1-series, 3-series and Z4. Forced induction and eco-tuning mean that peak power arrives at a relatively lowly 5000rpm, but the chunky 228lb ft of torque is available all the way from 1350rpm – 4800rpm. Buyers can choose between a six-speed manual or BMW’s impressive new eight-speed automatic gearbox, with the slusher getting marginally better official economy figures – 44.1mpg against 42.8mpg.

What’s it like to drive?

Good, if not quite what you’re likely expecting. The engine is effective, if not the sort of powerplant that’s ever likely to set your pulse racing. BMW’s claimed 6.5-sec 0-62mph time sounds on the money, and the throttle response is clean and lag-free at anything above very low engine speeds. The soundtrack is disappointing, with a bland hum in place of the snarl you’d get from a proper ‘six.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Grip levels are high, and the pointy front end and obedient back axle mean that the 125i rarely feels rear-driven. Only on slow corners, or greasy surfaces, does it feel as if there’s any chance of the available torque overwhelming the back tyres. But overall there’s a nice, light, accurate feel to the way it drives – like a BMW hot hatch.

Rivals

If you’re looking for a small rear-driver with decent urge and good running costs then the 125i covers plenty of bases. Although it’s less powerful, it slightly undercuts the Astra VXR and should also stack up well against the forthcoming mk7 Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Anything else I should know?

We couldn’t match the official economy figures, but got 37mpg in real-world use.

Price and release date

The BMW 125i M-Sport is available now from £26,070.

Specifications

Engine1997cc 4 cyl, turbocharged
Max power218bhp @ 5000rpm
Max torque228lb ft @ 1350 - 4800rpm
0-606.5-secs (claimed 0-62mph)
Top speed151mph (claimed)
On saleNow
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/bmw/1-series
BMW 1 Series hatchback

BMW M135i 2020 review - BMW goes mainstream with its new Golf R rival

27 Jan 2020
Visit/bmw/1-series/22694/new-2019-bmw-1-series-unveiled-including-a-hot-golf-r-rivalling-m135i
BMW 1 Series hatchback

New 2019 BMW 1-series unveiled, including a hot Golf R-rival

28 May 2019
Visit/bmw/1-series/22095/2019-bmw-1-series-teased-on-twitter-ahead-of-reveal
BMW 1 Series hatchback

2019 BMW 1-series spied

17 May 2019
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/saloons/202421/supersaloon-face-off-old-vs-new
Saloons

BMW M5 F90 vs E28 M5, RS6, E500 and Lotus Carlton: supersaloons old vs new

From the first to the very latest, we take a dive into the history of the supersaloon with the 1985 BMW M5 E28 and other classics taking on today's mo…
4 Apr 2020
Visit/honda/nsx/202424/honda-nsx-review-enough-to-take-on-its-european-rivals
Honda NSX

Honda NSX review - enough to take on its European rivals?

Honda’s supercar is immensely capable and startlingly fast, but it’s easier to respect than it is to love
6 Apr 2020
Visit/aston-martin/dbs-superleggera/22844/new-aston-martin-dbs-superleggera-volante-2020-review
Aston Martin DBS Superleggera

New Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante 2020 review

Losing the roof hasn’t compromised the DBS in the way it could have done. It’s a great mix of GT and supercar, with truly spectacular performance.
7 Apr 2020
Visit/hyundai/i30-n-hatchback/201775/hyundai-i30-n-versus-hyundai-i30-tcr
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 N versus Hyundai i30 TCR

Can Dickie Meaden beat Steve Sutcliffe in a straight(ish) race? We sent them to the Circuit Nuvolari with a pair of Hyundai i30 Ns to find out.
20 Sep 2019