BMW make efficiency a major goal
02 August 2011 | MARK JONES
BMW have to date sold over one million 1 Series cars worldwide, and are confident their all new 1 Series will improve on this number.
But, just as with the previous generation when it was launched back in 2004, and certainly with the new model, there won’t be too many fence sitters when it comes to styling comments.
Some are going to love it, some are going to hate it and many are simply going to live with it.
Choose a dark rich colour, opt for the Sport Line package treatment that sees some black trim being added to the equation, add some big optional wheels and living with new 1 Series on this level could be quite pleasant.
I know it is a very overused cliche, but the pictures don’t really do the car justice. In the flesh the new model can at times be good looking, but for the most part it will only pass as quirky in my book.
I mentioned Sport Line just now. BMW are also offering an Urban Line package that sees the car fitted with white alloy wheels and white interior trim accents if you want them.
They say this forms part of their effort to keep the car appealing to the younger generation. In fact there are something like 6 500 different trim and spec option combinations that you can come up with.
But for me the white wheels and trim don’t work on a premium car.
I am not going to waste too much more time on the styling aspect of the car, other than to say that it is longer and wider along with an increased wheel track.
Not that you will notice it off hand. For now the 1 Series remains BMW’s compact car.
The important part of the new BMW is all happening under the skin. The entire range will feature BMW TwinPower for the first time, and the 116i and 118i get all new four cylinder engines.
Power is up on the old range and fuel consumption is down, as is to be expected, from BMW these days.
The new 1 Series also incorporates the extremely wide-ranging BMW EfficientDynamics technology as standard.
This includes the Automatic Start/Stop function, available with both the six speed manual and optional eight speed automatic transmissions, and ECO PRO mode that can be activated using the driving experience switch fitted as standard across the range.
ECO PRO and the driving experience switch, in a nutshell, is what was referred to as the old sport button but with some added functionality.
The car starts in normal comfort mode, and you go up to sport and sport plus mode, sharpening the throttle and steering response at the same time.
Then you can go down to ECO PRO, and everything softens and gears itself towards saving fuel.
A natty feature is that in this mode a readout just under your existing range shows just how many kilometres you have added to your range by driving in a fuel efficient manner.
I got to drive the 2.0 litre turbo diesel first in around Berlin. When coupled to the eight speed auto it was in my opinion the pick of the bunch.
The engine is the tried and tested unit that churns out 135 kW of power and 380 Nm of torque.
BMW claim a 0-100 km/h time of 7.2 seconds, a top speed of 228 km/h and a combined fuel consumption figure of between 4.5 and 4.6 litres/100 km. Impressive to say the least!
This model, the 118i and 116i will all debut at Johannesburg International Motor Show at the beginning of October, will be available at the same time on dealership floors at slightly more than the corresponding derivatives now cost.
The other model I got to drive was the 118i, this time in six speed manual guise. It, too, was great in and around the city but the 1.6 litre engine that delivers 125 kW and 250 Nm didn’t fell as good as the diesel when pushed on the open road.
But, as you can see from the claimed numbers, it is a close run affair with the 118i said to get to 100 km/h in 7.4 seconds, stop at 225 km/h, while only using 5.8 to 5.9 litres / 100 km.
The 116i uses the same 1.6 litre powerplant in slightly detuned form. The numbers come in at 100 kW and 220 Nm along with a claimed 0-100 km/h figure of 8.5 seconds, a top speed of 210 km/h and fuel consumptions figures of 5.5 to 5.7 litres/100 km.
As always, the new 1 Series handling is top of the class thanks to a double joint cross-strut front axle with MacPherson struts and sway bars. There is a five-link rear axle and almost perfect 50:50 weight distribution. To further demonstrate this away from public roads we were routed through a BMW test facility.
Here we were able to do a few loops of one of their dynamic handling circuits, and experience the optional adaptive suspension package at work. This optional package that is strangely operated through the same toggle that controls the driving experience, allows you to go from comfort to M Sport at a push of a button.
Of course, safety is completely taken care of in the form of DSC (Dynamic Stability Control), ABS (anti-lock braking system), DTC (Dynamic Traction Control), CBC (Cornering Brake Control) and DBC (Dynamic Braking Control).
These are now augmented with braking assistance, fading compensation, brake drying, hill assist, and, in DSC Off mode, an electronic rear axle differential locking system plus a host of airbags etc.
The interior is business as usual. The cars high-tech presence is reflected in an impressive range of driver assistance and mobility services which is unique in a compact car.
Options available as part of the BMW ConnectedDrive programme include Adaptive Headlights (in conjunction with the xenon headlights option), a rain sensor with automatic activation of the driving lights, high-beam assistance, Park Distance Control, rear view camera and Park Assistant.
You also get cruise control with braking function, Lane Departure Warning with Collision Warning, and other innovative technologies that ensure integration with your Apple iPhone and other smartphones.
Subjective styling issues apart, BMW are bringing a seriously good and comprehensively updated premium car to continue to do battle in the compact segment.
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