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BMW 1 Series 125i 2009 Review

...and wipe the smirk off the usual suspects’ flashy grilles. The new BMW 125i is compact, sporty, great looking and a great performer. But just as important, it’s affordable too.

The new 125i is powered by a naturally aspirated, three litre straight six with VALVETRONIC fully variable valve control.

It puts out 160kW at 6100 rpm and 270Nm between 2500 and 4250 rpm. That allows it to scoot from 0-100km/h in 6.4 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 245km/h.

As standard, the 1 Series coupe gets power to the wheels via a six-speed manual but our test car was fitted with the optional auto with paddle shifters.

Fuel economy is sound, considering the 125i’s performance figures. It uses 8.7 litres of fuel every 100km and releases 207g/km of C02.

With its wide track, sloping side skirts, frameless doors and short overhangs, there is no questioning the compact 125i’s sporting pretensions.

We were given the M Sport version that tweaks the suspension and jazzes up the steering wheel and alloys, along with a couple of other small aesthetic changes.

There are plenty of other options like bi-xenon headlights with adaptive capability and high beam assist.

Refreshingly, the 125i is neat and basic inside with most driver aids – like sat nav (optional), audio and Bluetooth, viewable on a digital display unit, controlled by a single dial on the centre console.

Again, there are many extras you can add,  like a 10 speaker sound system and anti-dazzle mirrors.

The rear seats are 60/40 split fold and storage areas include nets on the rear of the front seats, a cup holder and centre console compartment and a net in the luggage compartment.

Our M Sport package included firm and supportive sport seats, Anthracite roof lining and a chunky multi-function steering wheel featuring the agreeable tri-coloured M badge.

Along with a comprehensive airbag package, the BMW 125i has an impressive list of safety features including ABS, Dynamic Brake Control, Cornering Brake Control, Dynamic Stability Control, Traction Control and Park Assist.

The BMW 125i starts at $54,400 for the manual and $57,200 for the automatic. The M Sport Package is an extra $2300, and while we liked its goodies, it doesn’t squeeze out any extra kilowatts so you’re not missing out on anything too important if you don’t want to spend the extra money.

The 1 Series looks like you want it to drive – sporty, agile and tight. Its short overhangs, thick skirts and big wheels tempt you to come closer and have a better squiz. And when you do, you notice things like the M badge on the wheels, the frameless doors and the sunroof.

Everything looks and feels substantial. The door handles are chunky and the long bonnet and squat, stocky rear give the coupe an agile and compact look that takes your mind back to one of the few Matchbox cars in your collection with bite marks on it.

Then you cup your hands to peer in through the tinted widows and the fat steering wheel and clutter-free dash stare right back, batting eyelids, urging you closer.

For a compact coupe the back seats are surprisingly accommodating, able to sit two average sized adults comfortably.

We started out in straight auto, choosing to save the paddles for a piece of open road. There is a normal and a sport setting, and it wasn’t long before we pushed the stick – and left it – in Sport. We found the changes were too quick in normal mode and it seemed a little indecisive when choosing the right gear accelerating or deccelerating from around the 50km/h mark. In sport mode it revved out a little more in each gear and we felt a little more in control.

Acceleration from a standing start was instant and smooth. Similarly, on the go, pick-up was good right across the rev range.

The paddle shifters are a little different to other makes. Rather than right for up and left for down, in the 1 Series they incorporate thumb paddles that change down gears, with the finger paddles – round the back – changing up.

Shifting with the paddles again was silky and quick, and changing down a few cogs from high revs into a corner sounded sensational. The stiffer suspension care of the sports pack helped to negate any body roll and the near 50/50 weight distribution meant the car would go where we pointed it.

Overall, we loved this car for both its looks and its performance, and can’t wait to give the 135i a go to see what a little more power can do.

Verdict: 8.9



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Range and Specs

135i 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $17,500 – 24,000 2009 BMW 1 Series 2009 135i Pricing and Specs
125i 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $12,888 – 16,990 2009 BMW 1 Series 2009 125i Pricing and Specs
135i Sport 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $19,000 – 23,990 2009 BMW 1 Series 2009 135i Sport Pricing and Specs
120d 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $8,290 – 14,888 2009 BMW 1 Series 2009 120d Pricing and Specs
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