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5.3.2009 BMW 118d ES review

BMW 118d ES review

BMW is already a global award-winner for its stance on low emissions and its `Efficient Dynamics` power-train technology; According to Iain Robertson, going `green` with this premium brand is a thoroughly painless, though moderately pricey, affair.

In days not so long past, buying in to premium car ownership usually came with an unfortunate `gas-guzzling` tag, but as we saw earlier this year with Mercedes-Benz and its downsized 1.6-litre C-Class model, this is no longer neccessarily the case. Although BMW finally has some viable rivalry to contend with, the low-emission 1 series is more than up to the job.

The compact 1-Series features a 2.0-litre diesel engine – despite the 118d designation suggesting it hass a smaller capacity unit. Now developing a surprisingly sporty 141bhp (175bhp is available in the 120d), its most impressive aspect is the 119g/km CO2 emissions figure, which places the car in road tax band B, and results in an very low Benefit-In-Kind rating (for business users) of just 13%.

Naturally, the core of BMW's business is the company car sector, which means that a fleet manager can specify a classy model for an employee's exclusive use that need not cost an arm-and-a-leg to live with. Yet, just as easily, the private car buyer can also gain from this association and the 118d Edition SE falls into the category of `value-added` specification, although a Comfort Pack was also added to my test car, which brought additional auto-wipers, auto-headlamps, and cruise and park distance control, amongst a raft of additional equipment.

BMW 1Series Interior However, it is the Efficient Dynamics aspects that are the measure of 118's (and BMW's) real strength. Obviously, the turbo-diesel engine is something special and digital management ensures that it sips fuel at a miserly rate of 62.8mpg (Official Combined cycle), while its performance is simply amazing. It can dispatch the 0-60mph benchmark sprint in just 8.9 seconds, a speed that was hot-hatch quick just a few years ago and remains pretty swift today. Thanks to careful use of aerodynamics and the scientific directing of airflow beneath and across the car's surfaces, its top speed is a no less than outstanding 130mph.

Shedding excess baggage was crucial to achieving the right package and BMW, in its typically efficient manner, has ensured the remaining weight is spread evenly around the car, allowing it to attain a 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution – essential to meeting its Driving Dynamics parameters. The extensive use of aluminium alloy around various sub-structures, components and even panels has enabled the creation of a rigid passenger cell, while also helping to further reduce the environmental impact of the car.

The use of advanced technology continues with the automatic stop-start, which helps to cut in-city pollution levels, by cutting the engine at standstill. Electric power steering has a similar impact, while the Intelligent Alternator Control reduces drag on the engine, as the device cuts off when not required. Brake Energy Regeneration captures the braking energy and converts it into electricity, with which it recharges the battery to cover for the increased demand during all stop-start activities. Finally, the deliciously slick 6-speed manual transmission features a `shift-light` in the dashboard that helps the driver to optimise gear change patterns. It needs to be highlighted that this is not at any additional cost in terms of user safety and the customary raft of acronyms (DSC, ASC+T, CBC, DTC among others) ensure that the 118d is contained within carefully monitored limits.

BMW 1Series Front The 1-Series is available as both three and five-door hatches, a two-door coupe and a convertible, any of which can be powered by an up to 261bhp 3.0-litre engine, although the Coupe can also have a 302bhp alternative. Efficient Dynamics applies across the line-up, however, the 2.0-litre diesel is by far the most popular choice. With prices ranging from £18,130 (£20,135 as tested), with the usual plethora of optional extras to choose from, tailoring a 1-Series to meet almost any driver's demands is a final element of the BMW eco-package. The only un-green aspect of this car is that the drive experience is too good, which makes it very tempting to put your foot down.

FIRST-DRIVE FACTS:
Model tested: BMW 1-Series 118d
Body-styles: 3/5-door hatchback, two-door coupe/convertible
Engines: 2.0 (TD4)
Trim grades: Dynamic, ES, Edition ES, SE, M Sport
Prices: from £18,130 to £22,180 (plus extras)
In the showroom: Now
Review star rating: 5 STARS
Warranty: Three years, unlimited miles
Website: www.bmw.co.uk

Iain Robertson © Next Green Car.com 2009

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