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BMW 118d 2012 review

Slightly larger, and considerably more stylish than the original 1 Series, this new model looks great on the road.

When BMW entered the small car market with the 1 Series eight years ago some thought a car using rear-wheel drive wouldn't work in a machine of this size. 

They pointed out that tight interior space would tell against it when all its competitors had space-saving front drive.

Over a million sales later BMW has proven it was right in sticking to rear-drive. Indeed the unique selling proposition (USP) and the upmarket air inherent in a rear-drive car has no doubt been a factor in the success. 

There are plenty of keen drivers more than happy to trade the mundanity of interior room for the joy of excellent chassis balance and superb handling.

Now we have the second-generation BMW 1 Series with more space in the back seat, more about that in a moment. 


Pricing starts from $43,500 for the manual and $46,577 for the automatic.

Better still, the 1 Series has been trimmed in price, partly due to the value of our dollar, but also because the continuing weakness in the European market means the Australian branch can push a tougher deal through head office. To sweeten the deal, higher equipment levels than in the outgoing 1 Series add to the value equation.


Visually, the new BMW ‘1 Series is a solid evolution of the first model, but clever shaping has given it more style. You wouldn't exactly say it competes with the Italians in its body shape, but it’s certainly less severely German in its lines than in the past.

Though there is 21 mm more rear legroom, the back seat is still not a comfortable place to accommodate adults travellers any more than short distances.

Try the kids for size during your own test drive if they are likely to grow into the hulking teenage years before the end of your ownership period. The height of the little Bimmer is unchanged because there was already good headroom in all seats.

Boot space has benefited from the longer body, up 10 per cent to 360 litres, which is pretty handy in a car in this class.

The first models to be released are in Australia are five-door hatches with the choice of two 1.6-litre petrol and one 2.0-litre diesel engines, all turbocharged. Larger engines, three-door hatches, coupes and convertibles will follow over the next few years.


The BMW 118d we have lived with for the past week uses an upgraded version of the 2.0-litre diesel from the first generation 1 Series.

It now produces 105 kW and 320Nm (up 20Nm). The official fuel consumption number is 4.5 litres per hundred kilometres. During our review period it sat in the five to six litre range on the open road and rose to six to eight litres around town in some quite heavy traffic conditions.

Though this wouldn't be our engine of choice in a BMW, the turbo-diesel can do the 0-100km/h acceleration test in a reasonable 8.9 seconds so has a semi-sporty feel to it. In gear acceleration is more important than pure sprinting in real life driving and the solid torque from the revised powerplant gives the little BMW a strong feel once the turbo lag has been passed. 

Slide down a gear in anticipation of overtaking so you get the torque up and running, and you spend a minimum of time on the wrong side of the road when overtaking. 

We will try to get ourselves into the more powerful of the two petrol powerplants and report on them. Somehow economy engines and BMW don’t make a good combination in our minds. Even better will be the high-performance 1 Series models that are further down the track.

The ride is relatively firm at times, but the excellent balance, wonderfully responsive steering and excellent cornering grip the little Bimmer provides will appeal to those who see cars as more than mundane transport.

Stylish in a way that was missing in the original manner, the all-new BMW 1 Series will attract many new customers to the marque. The reduced prices and the choice of several comprehensive options packages will do it no harm at all in the upperclass end of the small car market.


If you’re moving down from a larger car or getting out of one of these boring compact SUVs then be sure to put one of these small BMWs on your short list.

BMW 1 Series 118d

Price: $43,500 (manual), $46,577 (automatic)
Warranty: Three years/unlimited km
Service interval: Variable (condition-based servicing)
Thirst: 4.5 L/100km
Safety: Not assessed (previous model five-stars)
Equipment: Six airbags, ABS, ESP
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel, (105kW/320Nm)
Transmission: Six-speed manual, eight-speed automatic; rear-wheel drive
Suspension: Aluminium double link hinged tie bar front, multi-link rear
Dimensions: 4324mm (L), 1765mm (W), 1421mm (H), 2690mm (WB)


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135i 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $26,800 – 35,530 2012 BMW 1 Series 2012 135i Pricing and Specs
1M 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $32,300 – 42,350 2012 BMW 1 Series 2012 1M Pricing and Specs
135i Sport 3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $19,700 – 27,390 2012 BMW 1 Series 2012 135i Sport Pricing and Specs
M135i 3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $14,700 – 20,680 2012 BMW 1 Series 2012 M135i Pricing and Specs
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