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BMW 125i M Sport auto 2017 review

BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017
EXPERT RATING
7.4
Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the BMW 125i M Sport, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict. It's been almost six years since the second-generation BMW 1 Series went on sale and apart from the obvious styling cues, the car and the range are almost unrecognisable. You can always depend on BMW to make running

Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the BMW 125i M Sport, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

It's been almost six years since the second-generation BMW 1 Series went on sale and apart from the obvious styling cues, the car and the range are almost unrecognisable. You can always depend on BMW to make running changes, but today you can buy a 1 with a turbocharged three-cylinder, an idea we scoffed at all those years ago.

Explore the 2016-2017 BMW 1 Series Range

BMW 1 Series 2016 review | first Australian drive video
BMW 118i 2016 review | snapshot
BMW 118d 2016 review | snapshot
BMW 120i 2016 review | snapshot
BMW M140i 2017 review | road test

As part of the constant rearrangements of the range, the petrol-powered 125i now comes standard with the M Sport pack and a few goodies that send this car into battle with the Euro hot hatches from Volkswagen and Renault on one side and Mercedes-Benz and Audi on the other. The Beemer goes into the fight with something none of the others have - a sophisticated rear-wheel drive (RWD) chassis.

Occupying a sort of no man's land means the 125i drops off some buyers' lists, so we're here to ask the question - can a six-year old car really take it to this competition?

  • BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017 BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017
  • BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017 BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017
  • BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017 BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017
  • BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017 BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017
  • BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017 BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017
  • BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017 BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017
  • BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017 BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017
  • BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017 BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017
  • BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017 BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017
  • BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017 BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017
  • BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017 BMW 125i M Sport automatic 2017
BMW 1 Series 2017: 125i Sportline
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency5.9L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$31,990

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

The 1 Series range is a big one, starting at the sub-$40k three-cylinder 118i, stretching to the marvellously over the top (for a hatchback) M140i, which retails at $64,900 and packs a turbocharged 3.0-litre six cylinder.

In the middle and above the lower-powered 120i is the 125i, which can be had only in M Sport spec for $48,900. That buys you a six-speaker stereo, auto LED headlights, auto wipers, M Sport brakes and suspension, up-spec sat nav, reversing camera, dual-zone climate control, variable ratio steering, front and rear parking sensors, cloth and Alcantara trim and 18-inch M wheels with run-flat tyres.

Plucked from the lengthy options list was a glass sunroof ($2000) and the Comfort Package ($2100) which adds electric heated front seats with memory as well as keyless entry and start.

I say this every time, but there is no better control system in any mainstream car on the market.

Apple CarPlay is available (hooray!) but you have to spend $1600 on the Innovations Package to get it (boo!). It also comes with an extra speaker and the next step up the sat nav ladder. Seems... excessive.

The six speaker stereo is fine for the smallish cabin and is controlled with the small-dial version of BMW's iDrive. I say this every time, but there is no better control system in any mainstream car on the market. It's intuitive, easy to learn and won't confuse you.

The two options fitted take the price of this particular car to $51,900. If we'd had one with premium paint, it would have been a further $1190.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

It's a small car, so the 1's storage options are by necessity limited. Nevertheless, front seat occupants have somewhere to put a phone (although plus size phones are less easy to accommodate), a pair of cupholders and bottle holders in each door. Under the sliding armrest is a small bin and the glovebox is a tiddly offering.

Rear seat passengers get an armrest with another pair of cupholders but one must be mindful that the those occupying the back bench will be of the Cory Bernardi kind - restless and complaining of a lack of room up front to air their ideas. Smaller kids will be perfectly happy but early teens will feel the pinch. Entry and exit to the rear seats does require a little care to avoid bashing your head on the C pillar.

The 1's RWD architecture and multi-link rear suspension mean the boot is a smallish 360 litres, expandable to 1200 litres with the seats down. There's no spare tyre, the run flats take care of most puncture events.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

BMW's designers have trouble getting the 1 Series right. The original E87 was polarising enough but when the second-generation F20 landed, with its goofy front end and oddly blank stare from the rear, the company probably wished for a return to the E87 days. A facelift came quickly and fixed the top and tail without having to change too much else.

In profile, it's clear that BMW wants you to know the 1 is RWD, a truncated rear-end working with a proportionally long bonnet - with very short overhangs at each end - to enforce the idea. The 125's double-spoke 18-inch wheels are just right and the slightly lower suspension helps draw the car down over them to make it look solid and purposeful. The M aero bits and pieces add a bit of aggro, so it looks the business.

Nobody will complain about the Alcantara - it's a terrific material that won't get hot or cold and helps hold you in place.

Inside isn't exactly an oil painting but stylish enough. The dash design is much the same as the 3 Series, slimmed down to help create the illusion of space. The dodgy plastic wood of the lower-spec cars is abandoned in favour of some lovely textured aluminium trim pieces along the dash and on the doors. The M wheel is the usual delight (this is a hobby horse of mine), looking and feeling good.

The standard cloth and Alcantara trim is a nice combination, although not everyone will be a fan of the metallic blue hexagon motif in the cloth panels. Nobody will complain about the Alcantara - it's a terrific material that won't get hot or cold and helps hold you in place.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The diminutive 1 is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine, producing 165kW and 310Nm. Sending power to the rear wheels via an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, BMW reckons you can hit 100km/h in 6.1 seconds. Not bad considering it's a slightly chunky machine, with a kerb weight of 1400kg.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

The claimed combined cycle figure for the 125i is a scant 5.9L/100km. Admittedly, we drove the 125i reasonably hard and the weather was deeply unpleasant requiring constant use of the climate control, leading to a 10.1L/100km average. Still, that's a wide gap.

BMW's Efficient Dynamics package includes stop-start and an energy recovery system that juices up the battery under braking, as well as an EcoPro mode to reduce consumption.

And you have to run it on premium, although that's hardly a surprise at this level.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

First a reminder/confession - I personally have owned three 1 Series, all of them E87s. Each of them were completely different in character as one had the sluggardly 2.0-litre petrol, another the sprightly 2.0-litre diesel and the third the sublime 3.0 straight-six. What tied them together was the terrific steering and fun chassis.

BMW's uncorrupted steering has survived the transition to electric-assistance and is light and direct.

The F20 was unappealing to look at but shared the same DNA as each of the E87s, from 116i to 130i it was and is a terrific car to drive.

BMW's uncorrupted steering has survived the transition to electric-assistance and is light and direct, working with the tons of front-end grip and mostly neutral behaviour of the chassis. Press the console-mounted button to shift to Sport+ and the electro-nannies delay their intervention letting you get on with it while making sure nobody loses an eye.

It's an easy car to drive quickly and if you can't stretch to the M140i, it's a good compromise.

The chassis won't deliver the world's smoothest ride, but given how little travel there is, particularly at the rear, the 125i copes quite well in the city, ensuring as much of the tyre is on the road as possible. Rear occupants will notice extra firmness but the driver will love it. On the freeway there's a bit of road noise from both ends but engine and wind noise are well suppressed.

The eight-speed transmission and 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbo both deal with whatever you throw at it - around town you'll get smooth changes and ready torque, easy overtaking on the motorway and plenty of punch out of the corners when you're in the boondocks.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

Standard safety tech includes six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, brake assist, driver attention detection, lane departure warning, speed sign recognition, front autonomous emergency braking, and two ISOFIX points.

The 1 Series was awarded five ANCAP stars in 2011, the highest available rating.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

BMW offers a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty along with three years roadside assist. Servicing is based on condition and driving but the official figure is every 25,000km.

 It's loaded up with useful things if you're a fan of the driving experience over the toys.

A five year/80,000km service package is available for $1340. Called 'Service Inclusive' it covers all inspections, oil and various filter changes, spark plugs and brake fluid, which is reasonably generous when you look at a number of other fixed-price regimes. You can purchase the plan within 12 months of buying the car.

Verdict

The 125i is kind of a sweet spot of the range. It's loaded up with useful things if you're a fan of the driving experience over the toys. It's priced a fair way over the Golf GTI and a bit over the RenaultSport Megane, but it might be worth seeing if you could afford the extra for the delights of RWD and a BMW chassis. 

Despite its advancing years (relatively speaking), the F20 still feels fresh, partly because the Bavarians have thrown a huge amount of effort into keeping up with Audi and Mercedes.

Forget the badge, forget the birth certificate - it's the car that counts and it's a belter.

Can you live the with 1 Series' looks for the sake of RWD? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$37,800
Based on 31 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$29,990
Highest Price
$56,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
M140i 3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $43,990 – 56,990 2017 BMW 1 SERIES 2017 M140i Pricing and Specs
118i M-SPORT 1.5L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $28,600 – 34,430 2017 BMW 1 SERIES 2017 118i M-SPORT Pricing and Specs
118d SPORT LINE 2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $32,560 – 38,720 2017 BMW 1 SERIES 2017 118d SPORT LINE Pricing and Specs
120i Sportline 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $29,920 – 36,080 2017 BMW 1 SERIES 2017 120i Sportline Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.4
Price and features7
Practicality7
Design7
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption7
Driving8
Safety8
Ownership7
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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