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BMW 125i Hatch 2015 review

Paul Gover road tests and reviews the new 2015 BMW 125i at its Australian launch.

Reversing cameras are finally part of the picture for BMW in Australia. After years of denial, the arrival of the updated 1 Series brings a standard camera across a BMW model line-up for the first time.

The tail-end change is part of an update package that's headlined by Australian styling, thanks to Sydney-born designer Calvin Luk, and includes eight-speed auto, real-time traffic alerts, alloy wheels and automatic wipers on every 1 Series.

BMW Australia has dumped the 116i, meaning the new starter car is a 118i with the same showroom sticker at $36,900. Next up are the 118d, 120i and 125i, on to the sporty 135i from $62,900.

"It's the midlife change for the car but it's quite a comprehensive one. There is a lot more content now in the vehicles," says Lenore Fletcher of BMW Australia.

The 125i gets a M Sport package as standard, including suspension, brakes, seats and wheels

The focus is on the 125i, from $48,900. It gets an M Sport package as standard, including suspension, brakes, seats and wheels.

"We now see a real opportunity for the 1 Series, and especially the 125i," Fletcher says. "It is a hot-hatch contender and we're expecting it to be popular in Australia, where people seem to love performance-oriented cars. We've got the M135i still as the hero car but this is more accessible."

RELATED: Watch our 2015 BMW 1 Series first drive review video here.

Luk gets rid of the puffy old 1 Series front end and gives the car a bit more presence in traffic with sharper lamp pods and bigger grilles. The rear lamps are also new.

Inside, there is little to see for the 2015 update despite BMW claiming greater use of premium materials. The changes are hidden in the equipment and infotainment.

My time in the BMW is spoiled, and spoiling. I've got a 125i with M package. I should be researching the 118i (100kW/ 220Nm) but it feels much slicker to have a car that will sprint to 100km/h in 6.2 secs thanks to 160kW/310Nm and the new automatic transmission.

It's not a hot hatch in the boy-racer mould, with a blaring exhaust and droopy suspension, but it gets along very briskly and with surprising compliance in the suspension.

There is lots of meat in the engine's mid-range and the eight-speed auto, with paddle-shifters, has the right ratio for every job and is quick to react when I ask for more on a long uphill climb.

I'm happy to push the 125i over one of my favourite driving roads in northern NSW, where it copes easily with compressions in corners, choppy bumps and changes of direction. The brakes are powerful and I'm surprised that the low-profile 18-inch alloys do not destroy the ride.

It's a public holiday, which means a five-year-old in the back and old-timer cyclists on the roads.

That also means it's not an all-out thrash. The pace is brisk, composed and comfortable. I particularly like the sports seats but I'd like a big digital speedo. Rear legroom, as I'm reminded, gets quite cramped as soon as you put someone in the front passenger seat.

It's likely that the 118i will be comfortable and enjoyable with the extra equipment, particularly real-time traffic alerts during commuter work. The M135i is sure to stay brisk but costly.

The new line-up also leaves space for the 116i to return, something BMW Australia is not ruling out, if it needs a price fighter variant at some time in the future.

Also check out Malcolm Flynn's video review of the BMW 1 Series here:


Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

118d 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $23,650 – 29,260 2015 BMW 1 Series 2015 118d Pricing and Specs
123d High Line 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $43,560 – 50,600 2015 BMW 1 Series 2015 123d High Line Pricing and Specs
118d Highline 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $29,700 – 35,750 2015 BMW 1 Series 2015 118d Highline Pricing and Specs
135i M Sport 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $44,990 – 52,360 2015 BMW 1 Series 2015 135i M Sport Pricing and Specs