Owner review: Gary Philips on the BMW 1 Series

BMW 118d Sport

The baby beemer is now approaching its 7th birthday, after a slow start and BMW’s normal approach to product development; it’s now available with sensible amounts of kit, decent engines and at realistic price.  I took the plunge just over a year ago using my own cash and went for the 118d Sport 5 door.  Don’t let BMW’s model numbering confusion you, the car has a 2 litre motor with 140bhp, and strong green credentials.   Ok it’s not the best looking car from some angles and someone once described it as looking like a “hearse for jockey’s” but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  It’s got that BMW DNA which provides a certain stance and poise.

After a years day to day family use I can report that nothing has gone wrong, nothing has dropped off, the kids haven’t managed to break anything and its still squeak and rattle free.  Everything is where you would expect it to be and it all works with Germanic precision and efficiency.  If anything it’s all a bit dull and boring, no hunting for switches, or wondering why the fog lights are on.  The interior trim is smart and functional, rather than woo and bling.

If possible go for the 3 door, personally I think it’s a better looking car than the 5 door and it’s a lot easier to get in and out.  If like me you need the seat well back you have to perform a twist and drop manoeuvre to clear the door pillar, once successfully seated you then realise you’re now sat next to the door frame and not a window, not exactly desirable when entering roundabouts etc.  The dismount can be equally challenging, but at least the kids have there own entrance and exit.

So what about the “Ultimate Driving Machine” BMW constantly promotes?  All I can say is this a thoroughly competent car which goes and drives in a very understated fashion.  No drama, no shocks, it just goes, but is this the Ultimate Driving Machine? There’s nothing as such wrong, but it’s never made me feel special or put a smile on my face.  It will quite happily sit at motorway speeds all day and careful sipping its diesel.  55mpg+ is easily achievable with little or no effort, those with a green leaning will be feeling very smug with Prius beating consumption in the high 60mpg range.  It never feels short of grunt and the engine has freed up nicely as the miles have rolled by.  For a diesel it exceptionally quiet and when needed has an impressive upper rev limit.

Would I recommend it? If you’re after a practical 5 seat family motor then buy a Focus or any of the other front wheel drive models on the market.  However, if you rarely need 5 seats, or if your passengers have yet to reach their teenage years and you don’t carry around the proverbial kitchen sink then this might just be the car for you.

Garry Phillips