What is it?
After launching last year with a limited choice of engines and trim levels, the BMW 1-series range is now beginning to expand. Headlining the latest price lists are the new 125i and 125d models in M Sport trim.
We tested the VW Golf GTI-rivalling 125i last month, and now it’s the turn of the GTD rival, the 125d.
The 125d gets the new 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine that has also been added to the X1 range. The 125d replaces the 123d, and is the latest part of BMW’s deeply impressive EfficientDyanmics program. It’s an engine that boasts 215bhp and 332lb ft, but still returns a claimed 58.9mpg and emits just 126g/km when equipped with the optional eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox tested here.
What is it like?
It’s certainly not without appeal. The heart may push you towards the petrol-powered 125i, but the head is always going to push towards the oil-burning 125d.
The 125d’s engine is a sterling example of just how far diesel technology has come in recent years, and to prove the point it’s just as quick from 0-62mph as the 125i. The eight-speed auto also has a happy knack of selecting the right gear at the right time, whether you’re sprinting away from traffic lights or need to perform a quick overtake when settled into a motorway cruise.
We managed just over 50mpg on our test route, which is impressive considering how hard the powertrain’s plentiful and wide-ranging torque encourages you to drive.
The M Sport upgrades are a mixed blessing. Visually, they give it more purpose than the dowdy-looking regular car. But as is typical in the UK, the combination of M Sport’s large alloys, low-profile tyres and firm suspension settings result in a ride that’s far too firm, particularly around town. This is even taking into account the optional adaptive M Sport dampers our test car was fitted with.
And despite the straight-line performance, it’s just not that fun to drive. The sense of driver involvement from the chassis that you’d expect from larger 3-series is absent in the 1. Push it hard and all you’ll be rewarded with is understeer.
Should I buy one?
The 125d is not going to be short of buyers. It’s desirable and has the performance to match its hot hatch looks. And that performance comes guilt-free, too, given how economical it is.
It’s just a shame it’s not as fun going around corners as it is in a straight line.
BMW 125d M Sport
Price: £29,310; 0-62mph: 6.5sec; Top speed: 149mph; Economy: 58.9mpg; CO2: 126g/km; Kerb weight: 1480kg; Engine: 4cyls, 1995cc, turbodiesel; Power: 215bhp at 4400rpm; Torque: 332lb ft at 1500-2500rpm; Gearbox: 8-spd automatic