Not quick, but engaging, and a very compelling ownership proposition

Our Verdict

BMW 1 Series

Measures up on comfort and space, but the BMW 1 Series is still boring to drive

  • First Drive

    BMW 120d xDrive

    Adaptive four-wheel drive adds winter safety and dynamic interest to the BMW 1-series’ solid base at a potentially attractive premium
  • First Drive

    BMW 125i M Sport

    Slip through the six-speed manual gearbox and progress feels swift and incredibly smooth
14 November 2009
BMW 118d Coupe

What is it?

There are few diesel-powered coupes available for less than £21,000. In fact, until this new 141bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel BMW 118d coupe arrived you had the option of a base 2.0 TDI Volkswagen Scirocco, and that’s it.

Beyond that you had to settle for one of the multitude of more practical, but less interesting hatchbacks.

With the lower-powered commonrail engine in the 118d, BMW has added a new entry-level model to its 1 Series Coupe range as well as a direct rival to the popular diesel Scirocco.

What’s it like?

The BMW 118d makes a very compelling case for itself. It’s not quick but there are useful amounts of torque available, and with 0-60mph covered in 9.0 seconds it is easily fast enough to be enjoyable. Rapid getaways into traffic are effortless, and with stop-start tech and a six-speed ‘box as standard the 118d is impressively refined and economical in town and on the motorway.

The engine is slightly gruff, and on automatic start-up it is heard and felt very clearly by occupants. But, in truth, that’s no real irritation, and you can turn off the stop-start if you want.

Given that most buyers of the 118d Coupe will have economy at the top of their priority list, the stop-start ability is an excellent standard addition and helps achieve the claimed combined figure of 62.8mpg. We didn’t manage this on our test route, though economy in the high 50s is easily achieved.

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As we know from previous tests of the 1 Series Coupe, space for rear passengers is confined but usable for children or adults on short journeys, and otherwise a decent-sized boot, compact body and comfortable cabin make it a very usable everyday car.

The 118d emphasises these attributes by being the most affordable and economical model in the range without losing the rewarding handling traits of the rear-wheel drive setup.

The steering is heavy but precise, turn-in is sharp and the lower-powered diesel engine is flexible and punchy enough that it doesn’t detract from the driving fun.

Ride quality is firm but compliant, absorbing minor intrusions in the road surface very well at any speed, though deeper breaks can cause more severe thumping in the cabin.

Standard spec on the Sport trim (also new to the 1-Series Coupe) is excellent, with air-con, supportive cloth sports seats and a leather multifunction wheel as standard.

Should I buy one?

Absolutely. The VW Scirocco is the more practical and spacious coupe, and offers an equally involving drive, but the rear-wheel drive 118d has a charm of its own that many will appreciate. It is a usable and attainable sports coupe that answers real-world motoring needs without compromising on fun and desirability. Very few buyers need more incentive than that.

Join the debate


16 November 2009

Looks like a good little car, and fairly competitively priced for a BMW.

16 November 2009

- the £20,500 price is BMW's OTR, on-the-road price - includes delivery charge, registration fee, number plates and BMW emergency service fee. mrp price is sub £20k.

- for just two grand more you can have a 3-series based car with the same engine, same rear wheeldrive experience, with much more car for the money: X1 sDrive18d SE. no brainer.

16 November 2009

The X1 is slower and less economical, and although only £2k extra it still costs more than this. IMO a more fair comparison is the 318D SE vs X1 sDrive18d SE, in which case the cheaper X1 wins hands down.

16 November 2009

A good proposition!

In M Sport it is catch eye.

16 November 2009

I actually think this is the ugliest of all the 1's.

16 November 2009

[quote Quattro369]I actually think this is the ugliest of all the 1's.[/quote]

Each to his own . This is the only 1-series shape that I find acceptable.

16 November 2009

[quote Uncle Mellow]

[quote Quattro369]I actually think this is the ugliest of all the 1's.[/quote]

Each to his own . This is the only 1-series shape that I find acceptable.

[/quote] I agree, its the one I will be buying when my current car finance is up in about a year or so. And 1-series coupe vs X1?? What?? I can't see the comparison myself. I would never consider an X1

Dear Autocar website designers,

I understand your need to bring revenue in with advertising. However, can you do it in a way that makes your site usable please?


16 November 2009

The 1series Coupe is what a BMW should be...elegant but conservative design, nice range of engines and handling/steering that is up at the top of pile. The car in this form reminds me of those 3 series from the 80`s and early 90`s and thats good in my opinion... Only problem is that its lacking the practicality of the TT and Scirocco with there hatches.(but you pays ya money and take your choice)

Out of all the BMW range, this is the one I would be happiest to park up. Time for a 1series "M" please!

17 November 2009

I would not mind one of these . The figures sure add up for me. 35 quid a year for road tax top whack 130mph . 0-60 in 9 sec but 50-70 is doubtless better and around 60 to the gallon . Company car tax will be low too , somewhere between 13% and 19% no doubt .

Fun on the cheap at last . And I would not have to pay the governemt too much for it. Oops I am very political this morning.... sorry.

17 November 2009

I love the 1 Series in all its iterations. Back in the day when I was a road tester, the 1 Series launch was one of the most memorable because the car was just so damn good to drive and the 2.0 diesels and petrols I drove on the day were awesome in such a small car, especially the diesels. The 118d engine is a peach and feels a lot faster than the equivalent VW unit in the Scirocco/Golf. However, much as I like the beemer, I can't argue too much of a case for it over the 1.4TSi or 2.0D Sciroccos, which have that extra bit of 'coupe' style and 'I want one' desirability over the 1 series, in my opinion. And they're cheaper. I'm looking to scale down my next company car to something cheaper and smaller, and am seriously considering the Scirocco - but there is one thing stopping me and that is the 123d beemer - that is a STORMING engine and about the sportiest diesel engine in a hot hatch that I can think of. 50-70 seems to take about 1 second!


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