Driving Impression | BMW 125i M-Sport 3dr | Car Life

29 Jun 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Driving Impression | BMW 125i M-Sport 3dr | Car Life
BMW 125

Driving Impression | BMW 125i M-Sport 3dr

The BMW 1-Series is to BMW in 2012 what the E30 3-Series was to BMW in 1990. How does their pepper hatch model stack up?

The first generation of the BMW 1-Series was an ugly car . Not an unusual form or challenging at some angles. It was simply ugly. The back looked like it had been crashed into and the side had a crease along it that reminded one of a collapsed sofa.

The front appeared fine at first, but seeing it straight on, the proportions were all wrong and the car had the front profile of a brick.

The car was also slow, uncomfortable, impractical and over priced. The only thing it got right was the handling; it was classic BMW. This  was presumably due to the BMW DNA creeping into this hatchback designed to take on the VW Golf and Ford Focus . This BMW DNA meant that the BMW 1-Series, the smallest car in the range, was rear-wheel drive . the drive for petrol heads.

Even with all the failings of the first generation 1-Series, its rear-wheel drive engineering and badging meant that BMW sold hundreds of them. This means that for BMW, the new 1-Series had to carry on where the old one left off plus more. By all accounts, BMW concentrated, got a lot of things right and the new car seems to be selling well.

Now BMW have added a 3-door version to the 1-Series range, meaning the new shape comes in 3 and 5-door spec while the coupe and convertible models are still based on the old E82 and E88 models. So, the 125i 3-door that parked itself outside my house recently had a lot of ground to make up for the old models failings.

To overcome this, the new 1-Series 3-door will need the practicality the 5-door brought into the second generation while adding the sporty, VW Scirocco character that one would expect from a 3-door coupe-ish hatchback. It also needs to keep the classic BMW rear-wheel drive handling and fix the rigid ride and sluggish performance.

Exterior 3/10

As this is my review and I get to decide what the verdict is#8230; oh dear. The new 1-Series looks almost as bad as the old one. It#8217;s still looks too much like a loaf of bread and the back looks like a Volkswagen Polo.

The 1-Series fails stand out in a parking lot but when you do notice it, the lines mean you notice its far uglier than its Golf and Astra rivals.

BMWs marketing images show the character of the 1-Series: An urban posing machine.

The front has the new bulbous look which makes the new BMW#8217;s look far more modern than models of the 2000#8242;s. But the back is still too vertical and the loathesome lines along the side that gave the original the #8216;collapsed sofa#8217; look has carried over into the new car.

I must praise BMW for the 3-door shape though. Most cars offered in both 3 and 5 door configuration end up with o ne version looking like a hacked version of the other ; the 5dr is too long or the 3dr too short. BMW have given each configuration a slightly different character.

The 3dr version is much sportier and aggressive looking than its 5dr cousin.

Interior 9/10

For all the eyesores of the exterior, the interior of the 1-Series is BMW business as usual . There is aluminium and leather everywhere giving the interior a feeling like you#8217;re sitting in a posh bar.

The plastics used are all high quality and soft to the touch . The only issue I could find was the flap at the base of the center console. It looked like it should be a flap to another storage compartment. It doesn#8217;t open, but it should.

The seats in the model I had were manually adjustable M-Sport seats: comfortable and supportive. The only electrics within the seats were the motors used to adjust the bolsters. If you wish to drive up the N1 towards Centurion, in hells traffic, you can have the bolsters wide open, making the seats wide and comfortable like a couch.

If you want to drive like a hooligan, you can adjust the seats to be tight to hold you in place around corners.

Acceleration 7/10

On paper, the 2.0l twin turbo engine, producing 160kW in the BMW 125i M-Sport should do 0-100km/h in 6,2 seconds and on to a top speed of 245km/h . I#8217;ll believe that, however, I do have a few small problems with that figure.

First off, there are three modes for the engine power: Efficient Dynamics . Comfort and Sport . There is also Sport+ which keeps the engine in the same mode as Sport but slacks off the traction control. Then there are three modes for the gearbox. Normal . Sport and manual via flappy paddles . This means to achieve the claimed 6,2 seconds, you need to stop, put the car into Sport+ and the gearbox in Sport before you make the attempt.

Actually, I#8217;m being unfair. What you should do is put the car in Comfort and gearbox in Drive. The car is quick, responsive and economical.

If you wish to overtake, click down a gear or two on the steering wheel mounted paddles and overtake. The power is delivered smoothly, with little fuss and less noise.

If you wish to hoon the car, this will be the only time you put the car in either Sport or Sport+ and the gearbox in Sport and off you go. In this mode the car becomes edgy and aggressive. This is not a car for showing off with tire smoke and power-slides in.

Its a car for pin-point cornering and fast lap times #8211; putting the GTis and ST#8217;s in their place.

Braking 7/10

The 125i M-Sport came equipped with M-Package breaks . Painted blue, they are bigger than the standard ones, providing even more stopping power.

BMW M-Brakes and brake dust. #NoFilter

The pedal travel is good, with the brakes coming in gradually while in town and the brakes giving good feedback when slowing for corners. The ABS and EBD kick in late, allowing you to have a little bit of fun before the computer arrives to save you.

Ride 8/10

I was going to complain about the ride in the BMW but then I discovered I was at fault. I had the car in Eco-Pro which makes the car slow and soggy or Sport which makes it hard and aggressive. When my girlfriend notified me of this, I put the car in Comfort for a while.

The ride can be summed up in one word: Sublime.

Take it out of Comfort and into EcoPro  and the car becomes more soggy, much like an old American car. This relaxes you and makes you drive slowly. Put it in Sport and the car stiffens up.

You can tell what mood the car is in, depending on the ride.

Handling 9/10

Lets no mess about: This is a BMW and every BMW handles spectacularly well . The 1-Series is no exception. You can, however, set how well you want the car to handle using the mode adjuster.

Another colour. Beautiful handling and yet the car#8230; still no.

Comfor t makes the steering light and breezey and all is well. The fun starts when you put the car into Sport . In Sport the steering becomes heavier, the dampers stiffen up and you feel like the car is egging you on, taunting you to go faster. The 18#8243; tires made the car grippy and firm.

Its lovely.

BMW 125

Gearbox 6/10

As I mentioned above, the M-Sport Steptronic automatic gearbox is a bit complicated to understand. It has 8-gears, three modes and you can pair each gearbox mode with any of the three engine settings. However, in Comfort/Drive . the gearbox is smooth and quiet.

Put the car in Sport and the shifts are crisp and sharp. The car blips the engine to match the revs on downshifts and the paddles react with lightning speed.

So, the perfect gearbox then? Not really. There are a few issues.

There are 8-gears and that, simply, is too many . In Comfort and in town driving, the car hunts through the gears all the time.  Then in Sport, just as you are about to dive-bomb a corner you pull the downshift paddle and you are about to turn when you discover you are in a gear too high. So you have to either dangerously downshift in the corner or go through the corner with no power to exit.

All considered, it is a very good automatic. Its quiet and comfortable and doesn#8217;t make a fuss if you can hold you speed steady #8211; a challenge in Johannesburg traffic.

Audio 8/10

The BMW 125i M-Sport came equipped with a DVD . iPhone and AUX equipped audio system operated from the iDrive system . Sound is clear and crisp being delivered through the 10 speaker system .

The control interface is simple to understand with only the iTunes interface being iffy: 3000 songs turns out to be rather difficult to navigate#8230;

Toys 7/10

The 1-Series has a number of toys fitted, all of which were on the 3-Series I drove l ast year. Among the toys included were: Lane departure warning, collision assist warning, cruise control with brake function, the full iDrive suite (though no App connectivity) and full representation in the dash.

Toys from the 3-Series missing from the 1-Series include blind spot indicators, the BMW head up display, which was sorely missed, and the electric seats. Otherwise, everything was there. I sadly have to blame the 3-Series for causing me to be somewhat jaded with the toys in the 1-Series as nothing was new or amazing to me.

That said, all the toys are remarkable and useful.

Value 3/10

The BMW 1-Series biggest failure is its pricing . At a list price of R336 00 its R20 000 cheaper than a Ford Focus ST3 and only marginally less powerful. However, the model we had, with all its extras came to R493 950 . Thats almost half a million Rand for whats basically a Golf. If I had to select the extras I want: the M-Package, M5 blue paint and BMW ConnectedDrive . it still works out at almost R420 000 . Thats too much.

Conclusion 67/100 

The 125i is a massive improvement on the original 1-series. The 8-speed gearbox takes some getting used to and the looks are rather unfortunate. I could look past all of this. What I could not look past is the price.

Priced like a BMW #8211; everything except the windscreen is an extra #8211; means that once you#8217;ve set up your dream car, you#8217;re spending R100 000 more than you would on a Golf GTi.

If you love BMW and are looking to enter the BMW family, take a look at the 1-Series. The price is a bit steep but for BMW fans, this is part of the experience.

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