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

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.

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

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jer 26 November 2009

Re: BMW 118d Coupe

I love BMW long time, but a VW Scirocco must be a much better choice. Stretch to the petrol GTI VW. If you can afford the list price you can the slightly higher running costs.

Lupe 19 November 2009

Re: BMW 118d Coupe

Totally agree. I love it

oaffie 17 November 2009

Re: BMW 118d Coupe

Uncle Mellow wrote:
The Scirocco isn't a coupe anyway , it's a hatchback.

I agree. I don't get this new generation of 'coupes'. The Brera is a fat, squashed hatchback not a coupe. The Scirocco is a fat, squashed hatchback not a coupe. The Volvo C30 etc etc. I'm sure somebody out there with a dictionary definition will prove me wrong just to be pedantic, but as far as I'm concerned they are not what I think of when the word coupe is mentioned.

As for the 118d, I'd take the 3 door hatch any day, as indeed I did. It's by far the best looking 1 series and is £1,100 cheaper than the coupe for the same spec.