Slip through the six-speed manual gearbox and progress feels swift and incredibly smooth

What is it?

Until the arrival of BMW’s blazing 316bhp M135i, this BMW 125i is Munich’s hottest 1-series hatchback currently on sale. 

Behind the 125i’s comparatively snarling face beats a 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbocharged engine, which pumps out 218bhp, with 228lb ft of twist available between 1350-4800rpm.

Like its oil-burning 125d brother, 0-62mph is dispatched in 6.5sec, with top-end achieved at 151mph, just 2mph more than the diesel.

To distinguish the 125i from its more modest stablemates, BMW has garnered the exterior with 18-inch alloys, sporty bumpers and side skirts, plus twin chrome exhausts.

As you’d expect, the interior’s been upgraded to include figure-hugging sports seats and flashes of aluminium-effect finishes on the doors and centre console.

What's it like?

Depress the starter button and the first thing you’ll notice is the two-pot-shy four-cylinder engine note. (For the full-fat six-pot, you’ll need to wait for the flagship M-car).

Slip through the six-speed manual gearbox and progress feels swift and incredibly smooth thanks to the twin-charger’s linear delivery of turbocharged power. The only thing missing from the experience is an equally gratifying exhaust note, which currently disappoints. 

That said, the BMW 125i is a pleasing thing to drive. Pedal weights are spot on, driving position good and steering direct and nicely weighted. In-gear performance is another plus as the force-fed motor pulls strongly through the rev range. 

Four driving modes are selectable in the 125i and include Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. In all but the latter two, the willing 1-series is a comfortable and relatively smooth cruiser, in both town and motorway driving. 

Prod the centre-console-mounted button to Sport or Sport Plus and firmer damping and tougher steering produce increasingly skittish road holding on our notoriously scarred roads.

Launched at a series of twisty tarmac, however, the 125i corners with confidence and minimal body roll. Strong brakes (courtesy of the model’s M Sport braking system) ensure that the hatchback scrubs off speed particularly well, too.

Should I buy one?

Fitted with a four-pot motor, the 125i's lighter front-end (compared with its six-cylinder predecessor) makes this a chuckable and rewarding hot hatch. It certainly looks the business and offers the sort of performance and handling to match the needs of keen drivers.

And pitched against its slightly slower, more expensive Golf GTI rival (0-62mph: 6.9sec, 149mph, £26,235) the BMW 125i makes for an increasingly tempting package.   

BMW 125i M Sport

Price: £26,070; 0-62mph: 6.5sec; Top speed: 151mph; Economy: 42.8mpg; Co2: 154g/km; Kerbweight: 1440kg; Engine: 4-cyls in-line, 1997cc; Power: 218bhp at 5000rpm; Torque: 228lb ft at 1350-4800rpm; Gearbox: six-speed manual

Join the debate

Add a comment…
fatboyfat 26 June 2012

reminds me of a Chrysler PT

I just cant get the PT out of my head when I see pictures of this, especially at a semi side on angle

Lee23404 25 June 2012

The Focus does have some

The Focus does have some impressive figures and it's cheap but I just don't want one. The 1 series might not be the best looking car in the world but it is at least interesting, the Focus looks like a Korean hatch (before KIA and hyundai started making decent looking cars) with a cheap body kit.

It's not for me.

david RS 25 June 2012


The look?

Where is the L6?

Where is BMW?