BMW 1-Series 116d Efficient Dynamics Plus review
Styling changes are subtle for BMW's mid-life update of the 1-Series with the important news a range of three and four-cylinder diesel engines which are up to 12% more efficient.
The Efficient Dynamics Plus model is a pleasant drive once you get used to the gear ratios and the gear change, but car park bragging rights mean the M Sport models will take most 1 Series sales (40%/45%), followed by Sport (35%). Beware bigger wheel options which will increase fuel consumption and CO2 ratings.
Review by Russell Bray
There's now the 1.5 litre three-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine first seen in the Mini Cooper under that long bonnet. Ultimately it's not as refined and vibration free as the outgoing 1.6 litre four-cylinder was, but the engine note is quite pleasing and sporty sounding. Torque is up slightly (by 7 lbs ft to 199 lbs ft) so the car really steps off well. Maximum power of 114 bhp (at 4,000 rpm) is the same as the 'old' four. Acceleration from rest to 62 mph takes a tenth of second longer than the new, standard 116d at 10.4 seconds, while top speed is down by three mph to 121 mph. For a diesel, the engine revs pleasingly freely. Tall gearing means dropping from sixth to fifth gear when you need acceleration at motorway speeds. Long distance cruising would be very relaxed.
Having driven to the test event in a Skoda, the more solid feel of the 1-series and its weighter, meatier steering was immediately obvious. Surveys show many owners don't know 1-Series cars are rear wheel drive, at least until it snows, but the 116d has a lovely balance if you are powering it through corners. It's not that sharp responding to the steering initially though while the lighter Skoda felt more lively. Drive Performance Control doesn't alter that much how the 116d ED Plus feels; though with the extra cost optional adaptive dampers presumably this would change. In sport mode you can add extra weight to the power assisted steering which gives you more confidence if tackling bends with gusto. Not getting higher than third gear at town speeds feels odd at first but that's what the car asks for.
The BMW 1-Series has been with us for ten years now and from a very ungainly start has gradually become a more attractively shaped car. This latest version, a mid life update, has lower front body panels with bigger air intakes each side under the front bumper. The so-called kidney grilles have been subtly reshaped and new headlamps have LED daytime driving lights as standard on all models. Full LED headlamps with low and main beam appear on the options list. New tail lamps also use LED technology and now stretch across the tailgate. The car is optionally available with a 40:20:40 split rear seat backrest which allows boot capacity to be increased in stages from 360 to 1,200-litres. Length 4329 mm. Width 1765 mm.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Comfort is fine if you are in the front seats, though elbow room is limited but in the rear it is cramped and claustrophobic if you are tall. Legroom is particularly poor. I needed the steering wheel fully extended to achieve a comfortable driving position.
The engine feels strong and powerful but the brakes are too sharp and the six-speed manual gear change, though light, is too notchy despite what BMW calls 'engagement speed control for the smoothest possible gear changes.' An automatic is not available with Efficient Dynamics Plus specification. I fully approve of the old-school driver operated handbrake rather than the fault-prone electronic ones.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Laboratory fuel test figures declare the Efficient Dynamics Plus to have a thirst of 83.1 MPG on the combined cycle compared to an overly impressive 78.5 MPG for the £850 cheaper best selling standard 116d. Naturally, these figures are impossible to achieve – click here to find out why. We estimate a Real MPG of 60 MPG for the most efficient of the 116d range; indeed, with the car in full Eco Pro mode on a lightly trafficked route the on-board computer showed 56.2 MPG. Official carbon dioxide emissions are 89 g/km compared to 94 g/km for the standard 116d. Being well under 100 g/km means neither version attracts road tax (VED). Insurance is group 15 and the the warranty is for three years.
The 1496 cc engine uses new turbocharging technology and a further developed common rail direct injection fuel system. Engine response has been improved with variable geometry turbos. New solenoid valve injectors generate pressure of 2,500 bar so increasing the precision of the fuel metering. The water pump only operates on demand and there is a specific combustion chamber pressure control system. Automatically adjusting flaps behind the radiator grilles close to speed engine warm-up and the vertical bars are shaped to stop air pressure building up in the engine bay and increasing aerodynamic drag. The car rides 10 mm lower than standard for a sleeker profile. The Cd has been cut to 0.29.
As well as brake energy recuperation, there is a gear change up indicator and automatic engine stop-start for traffic. Eco Pro mode adjusts throttle response and turns down the air conditioning to save fuel (see previous section). The navigation system come with a driving ‘assistant’ which suggests when to lift off the throttle ahead of corners, roundabouts etc.
Taking into account the official CO2 of 89 g/km, and adding life cycle emissions for all main pollutants for fuel and vehicle production, the NGC Rating for the car tested is 27.
Despite new seat fabrics, some piano black trim and chrome surrounds the cabin feels dated and rather too snug compared to rival cars from Audi and Mercedes. Some of the plastics, and the glove box, feel cheap. Options on the test car included Dakota leather trim (£1,150), interior comfort pack of dipping mirror, automatic air conditioning and extended lighting pack (£550), sport steering wheel (£110), front sports seats (£395), interior aluminium trim (£220), front and rear parking sensors (£250), LED headlights (£645) and Professional Media pack including satellite navigation for £1,295. Standard kit includes automatic headlights and wipers, keyless ignition, heated door mirrors, tyre pressure monitors, cruise control, and an iDrive multimedia system with 6.5in control display. If you are so minded you can draw letters and numbers with a finger on the iDrive controller to enter destinations. The screen is very clear but some of the graphics need updating.
Model tested: BMW 1-Series 116d Efficient Dynamics Plus
Body-styles: Five-door compact hatchback
Engine/CO2: 114bhp 1496cc three-cylinder turbo-diesel / 89 g/km
Trim grades: SE, Sport and M Sport
On-road price: From £20,030 (3dr). Test car with options £27,375
Warranty: Three years/ unlimited mileage
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 STARS