It’s ironic how price and positioning change the perception towards a particular body style of vehicles. Let’s talk about hatchbacks. Most people buy hatchbacks because they are cheap to buy and run with a majority owners wanting to upgrade to a bigger vehicle as a hatchback doesn’t carry any prestige. However in the premium segment, luxury car makers are trying to lure buyers to their fold with their premium hatchback offerings, which are also the cheapest way of owning a German brand. While the hatchback segment is booming in Europe, even for cars like the BMW 1-Series, in India the situation is quite different. After having driven the 1-Series diesel last year, we now get behind the wheel of the petrol variant, the 116i, to gauge if it has the sporty quotient to lure petrol-heads. Check Ex Showroom Price of 1 Series
The 1-series is unmistakably a BMW with its kidney-shaped grille, long bonnet and twin-barrel headlamps, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best looking around. In fact, its ungainly proportions – short, tall and backward leaning – make it look a touch awkward. It simply doesn’t make the brilliant first impression that the A-class manages so easily. There is some nice detailing, like the strong shoulder line and the accents in the headlight units (base models don’t get projector headlamps) and the classic Hofmeister kink, but overall, it’s quite a bland design.
The 1-series is compact, even for its class; both the A-class and the V40 are bigger. But importantly, the 1-series’ wheelbase is relatively generous, in the interests of cabin space and to compensate for the longitudinal engine, RWD layout, which isn’t the most space efficient.
To achieve BMW’s trademark 50:50 weight distribution, the engine had to be pushed back to almost behind the front axle line and the battery moved to the boot floor where the spare wheel is normally placed. And there isn’t a spare wheel; BMW, being BMW, has stubbornly stuck to run-flat tyres despite the growing dissonance from Indian customers who want the security of a spare.
The 1-series’ suspension has been completely revamped from the previous generation (E21), which drew criticism for its not-so-involving handling. The new car gets a five-link rear axle and MacPherson struts up front, complemented by a double-joint, cross-strut front axle. The track is also pretty wide and this gives the 1-series a planted stance, but it’s not as hunkered down as it could be thanks to the raised suspension for the Indian-spec models. The Indian 1-series gets BMW’s ‘rough-road’ suspension that offers better damping on bad roads and ground clearance that’s been jacked up from 140mm to 157mm – very useful when tackling speed breakers.
The interior will add dynamic and forward-leaning lines and surfaces, combined with high-quality and precision-finished materials. Customers will have the possibility to opt for a an optional navigation system and the BMW Professional radio that includes a controller on the center console, favorites buttons and a freestanding flat screen monitor.
The BMW Sport Line package includes: sports seats with specific coverings, leather sports steering wheel with contrasting red stitching, a red keyclasp, adjustable armrests, high-gloss black interior trim and matt coral accent strips.
The Urban Line package will be distinguished by: specific cloth/leather seats, a leather sports steering wheel, adjustable armrests and contemp
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;
But then again, the boffins at Munich have built the car with a one track mind. Get behind the wheel and you will immediately feel that the car has been crafted to be completely driver oriented. The 118d that we drove hosts a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel mill that produces 143PS at 4,000 rpm and 320Nm between 1,750-2,500 rpm. Now, on paper, these figures might just seem a little run of the mill but hit the throttle hard and you will be swayed into an entirely different opinion altogether. Power is available throughout the rev range and this actually comes into perspective when you go pedal to the metal and watch the tacho needle revving with much ease right up to the red line. A lot of this character comes thanks to the eight-speed transmission that shifts oh so seamlessly. Go hard on the throttle and it touches the 100km/h marker in just 8.6 seconds and it goes on to hit a top speed of 212km/h. BMW claims that the diesel iteration of the 1 series is capable of returning an overall efficiency of around 20.58kmpl.
Figures aside, there are four driving modes – one for every mood. The Eco Pro, for the one off occasions when you feel like driving in the economy mode; then there is the comfort mode, again something that will be sparingly used. The Sport+ mode, which automatically switches off the ESP, is sure to bring an ear to ear smile on your face. The steering feels heavier than in the other modes but continues to remain as precise and responsive which makes it that much more fun to push around corners. The 225/45 R17 tyres make their contribution in ensuring that you feel confident while carrying speed into round a bend. The 1 series not only handles amazingly but is also quite comfortable even on bumpy and rough tarmac. The suspension is well damped and easily absorbs all the undulations that the road throws at it without letting out a single twitch to put your comfort levels in question.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
When the BMW 1 Series first appeared back in 2005 there was a high level of champing from hacks and punters alike. Here was a hatchback, from handling maestros BMW no less, with rear-wheel drive. However, the reality was rather muted. It didn’t handle anywhere near as well as a 3 Series.
This second-gen car has revised and lighter aluminium suspension components. These reduce unsprung mass, significantly improving ride quality. On board, a ‘driving experience switch’ offers you Comfort, Sport or fuel-saving Eco Pro driving modes. These remap the engine and stability control and alter the optional auto ’box to suit the desired driving style.
The upshot is greater levels of comfort and refinement rather than a more-focused driver’s car. The 1 Series will still wag its tail under provocation, but, for better or worse, this is not what this car is about these days. Saying that, BMW does offer a M140i variant which, with 335bhp from a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six, does bring a welcome dose of classic BMW enthusiasm.
SAFETY FEATURES ;
The BMW 1 Series grabbed a five-star rating in the Euro NCAP accident tests, and was positioned among the best in its class for accident insurance, with a grown-up tenant rating of 91 percent and a kid inhabitant rating of 83 percent. You get a heap of security innovation fitted as standard, including a footing control, four airbags, ISOFIX tyre seat mounts, non-freezing stopping devices and electronic dependability control. What’s more, you can pick from various security-related additional, discretionary items, for example, path takeoff cautioning and programmed braking, which has the capacity to recognize stationary activity before you and naturally brake to keep a low-speed crash.
The BMW 1-Series is a very involving car to drive and in spite of being an entry-level offering, it’s practical too, offering a decently big cabin, a large boot and good ride quality. However look past these things and you feel a bit disappointed. While the base 116i is priced attractively, it doesn’t even have features which the world’s cheapest car comes with as standard. The top trim is only available in diesel and that car costs as much as a 3-Series. Thus the petrol 1-Series doesn’t make a strong case for itself. It’s limited audience are those who want a BMW on a budget and are ready to live with the bare basic equipment in return for the ultimate driving experience in the segment.