It's been just over a week since I gave back the BMW 120i and truth be told, I miss it more than I expected to. Being the baby of the fleet, BMW's 1 Series won't strike you as a car that could live up to it's bigger siblings but German manufacturer thought otherwise. Despite being relatively well priced, they spare no expensive in making this car as good as the rest.
The face lift 1 Series that is on sale now feels like a more mature product that the model it replaced, not to say the previous one was slightly less better but with revised front headlights and back tail lights just make the car look a little more grown up. I had the 3 door 120i to drive around for the week and I was seemingly impressed with it.
As mentioned above, the revised lights do give it that more elegant grown up look but the car it self looks more sleeky and less bulky than before. The 3 door variant exudes the sporty nature, with it's long coupe doors with frameless windows which curve back to form the boot makes the car look like it means business. The rear of the car is finished off flush with the new elongated tail lights and the boot lid opened secretly hidden in the BMW emblem. The car came with 17" alloys which did look rather drab for the Sport Line kit but there are other variants to chose from.
The interior is nothing short of class, sticking to their minimalistic approach, BMW's team crafted this cabin with the same attention to detail as they would any other of their cars. All materials are of high quality and it's evident in everywhere you look. Some manufacturers tend to use cheaper quality materials in their entry level segments but I'm glad to see BMW didn't follow suite.
When inside, it feels like anyother BMW, ride quality is great, the suspension perfect and with it's some-what nimble size, its perfect to throw around the corners. With the perfect weight distribution, driving around in the car is fun all the time. Even though it might be bigger than the Mini, it still gives you that go-kart feel but with a bit more stability. The car came with electronic memory seats which I have become quite accustomed to and is honestly a must have in the car, this also helped with the ease of moving the seat for the back passengers to get in. The room in the back was pretty decent given that this was a coupe, 2 adults could sit in comfort when seating arrangements were slightly comprised for the front passengers.
Power for the 120i is derived from BMW's 1.6 litre Twin Power Turbo engine, pushing out 130kw and 250Nm of torque. The car is a heavy and in comfort more it did feel a bit sluggish on take off but I think that was mainly due to the gear box, when switched over to sport mode, things did get more lively, at a price though since your consumption goes up.The standard automatic gearbox is to blame, its good but the optional 8 speed M Sport with paddle shift just gives the car a little more oomf with its faster changes and higher revs, which in turn makes it much more fun to drive.
The trunk in the 3 door 1 Series was surpringly big for a car this size, more than enough space to chuck in some luggage for a weekend away, or if there was something more bulky, simply drop the rear seats and you're good to go.
The car came with some handy extras and some not so handy extras, nothing that was unique to the 1 series though, on a car like this you wouldn't necesarrily want to add the reverse camera on it as it would be fairly simple to park but thats just me. The extended screen for the Satelitte navigation was a plus for me, not sure why but the bigger the display for me, the better it is. As I said previously, electronic memory seats should be standard and this one had it, albeit as an extra. Things it didn't have that annoyed me was single zone airconditioning and the normal automatic gearbox.
Overall, it's a brilliant product from BMW, priced well along side its competitors and in honest offers the better product. There's nothing that makes this car feel inferior compared to the other models in BMW's stable. It's built well, it looks great and it drives like it should. Even though it was not the range topping 135i, it still gave some hot hatches worrying moments on the road.
- 1.6 litre, 4 cylinder TwinPower Turbo
- 8 Speed Sports Automatic Transmission
- 250Nm torque
- Consumption: 5.3ltr/ 100km
- Top Speed: 225kph
- 0-100kph: 7.5 seconds
- Price: R415 300 (excluding extras)