The latest 116d has lower emissions than before, but does it detract from BMW ’s goal of being the Ultimate Driving Machine. Ian Robertson investigates
Base models are sometimes pretty boring, with pared down equipment levels, puny engines and mundane looks. BMW’s new entry level 116d aims to blow those thoughts out of the water with a new low CO2 car that you actually want to drive and own. Choose the option to delete the rear badge and the 116d could be any of the models from the extensive 1 Series range.
And despite the 116d name, the newcomer features the familiar 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine, rather than a 1.6-litre diesel engine as you would expect. It’s the same unit that powers all of the other diesel 1 Series models, just that it is detuned to 116bhp, which is quite apt, considering the car’s name. On the combined cycle it achieves 64.2mpg, while producing CO2 emissions of just 118g/km, which means only £35 per year to get your annual road tax disc. That’s while achieving 10.3 seconds on the zero to 62mph dash, before powering onto a maximum speed of 124mph. Not bad at all.
Despite its eco credentials, the 116d is great to drive, offering punchy performance and good levels of refinement. The suspension set up is quite forgiving and handling is top notch. Throw the 1 Series into a series of bends and it’s well balanced and certainly rewards the more enthusiastic driver. Defying class convention, the 1 Series is unique in that it is rear-wheel-drive, and while that isn’t particularly great for interior packaging, it makes for terrific fun behind the wheel. The stop-start system helps the reduction in CO2 emissions, and while it might be a bit disconcerting at first, you’ll soon get used to it. The engine restarts smoothly and quickly when required, – only those with Superman-like agility will be able to outwit the system.
On the inside, as you would expect, it is beautifully screwed together and solidly finished. Styling is traditional too, and will be immediately familiar to existing BMW owners. The sports steering wheel has a pleasant, chunky feel and the sports seats are supportive, with plenty of adjustment for that perfect driving position. Interior space is at a premium though, and those seeking a family car, may well be better off with a Ford Focus. For instance, the rear doors are quite slim and restricted, making access to the rear a pain. At the same time as the launch of the 116d, a new Sport trim level has been added, offering 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, a multi-function steering wheel and sports seats in addition to the equipment found on entry-level 1 Series models. All of this greenness means that you save £995 compared to the 143bhp 118d Sport, as well as 1g/km off the CO2 emissions and 1.4 miles extra per gallon. Residual values after three years and 36,000 miles are pretty good meaning that the 116d is a sound buying proposition.
RIVALS: Audi A3 1.6 TDI Sport, Ford Focus ECOnetic 1.6 TDCi, Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion SE 1.6 TDI
- Engine: 1995cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max Power: 116bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 192lb ft at 1,750rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,200kg
- Combined Consumption: 64.2mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 118g/km (C)
- 0-62mph: 10.3secs
- Max speed: 124mph
- Insurance group: 10
Fantastic driver’s car, low emissions, excellent fuel economy, punchy performance
Interior packaging poor, quite pricey