Product Type: BMW cars
Newest Review: ... the guy with the transporter delivered the 1-series I looked at the boot and said "OK, I give up. How the heck do I get in?" You... more
Perfect for Snow White - A Single Girl with Short Friends
BMW 118 d Sport
Member Name: koshkha
BMW 118 d Sport
Advantages: Sport seats are really comfy
Disadvantages: Not enough car for the money
~Me in a 1-Series? You'd have to be kidding~
In the first week of January my new company car was delivered. Since I'd ordered exactly what I had last time, just a different colour, I didn't check it too closely after asking "Did anything change?" and being told that it hadn't. That evening I realised there were two big problems; the cruise control was missing and the boot had been carpeted in black, despite the rest of the car having grey leather upholstery and grey carpets. It looked absolutely stupid. The garage agreed that BMW built it wrongly and said they'd take the car back, fix the colour problem and retrofit the cruise. And whilst my car was being fixed, they would bring me a loaner - a 118d Sport with a 61 plate. I would have a couple of weeks to find out whether it really was the 'hairdresser car' I'd always assumed it would be. My review is therefore based on just a couple of weeks and 1500 miles but I've seen plenty of reviews of even shorter rentals or even test drives so I think I've had long enough to know a lot of what's good, what's bad, and why I'd never consider trading down to a one-series.
My analysis of the 118d Sport is based on comparison with two 320d SE Touring which I've driven for three and a half years and 6 months in an Audi A3, three and a half years ago. The A3 costs a similar price whereas the 3 series starts at 4-5k more expensive than the most basic 5-door 118. However, the 118d Sport isn't the basic model and costs almost exactly the same price as the basic 3-series tourer and it's just not worth the money.
~Funny Looking Car~
The original BMW 1-series was a funny looking beast. It was all nose and no bum with a long bonnet and very distinctive lines and bulges. This was a car that made people stop and look a second time with its cheeky little cheek bones and sleek lines, but rather like a reality TV 'celebrity' the shape didn't 'age well'. What started out funky soon looked silly and dated. The 2011/2012 1-series has been smoothed off, 'defunked' and turned into rather too much of an Audi A3 lookalike. The model I've been driving is the 5-door - thank goodness. I'd never have got my parents in the back of a 3-door. The old lines are still there but very much toned down and whilst it definitely needed a makeover, I think it lost a lot of its style in the process. The two biggest problems of the original design are sadly still very apparent - the rear legroom is pitiful and I have handbags with nearly as much capacity as the luggage area. On both points the 1-series is inferior to the A3.
To finish off the externals, the rear windows and glass in the hatchback are tinted black. Unless you plan to sell sex or deal drugs from the back of your car, or are a Muslim who wants his female relatives to be able to sit in the back with their head-scarves off, I see absolutely no point in tinted windows. As I'm not really into the 'pimped up' look, I would never in a zillion years choose tinted windows - I just think they are silly. To balance that with a compliment, there's one nice little touch on the hatch and that's the way you open it. When the guy with the transporter delivered the 1-series I looked at the boot and said "OK, I give up. How the heck do I get in?" You push the BMW badge and it opens - very smart. And it shuts well too with some kind of 'assist' that I haven't entirely figured out.
Inside the car and I have to say it feels a little cramped in the front compared to both the A3 and the 3-series and absolutely minuscule in the back. The driver's area is very similar to the 3-series and the knobs and switches are pretty similar. The handle to shut the door when you are inside is placed very differently and my poor mother, when sitting in the front, couldn't actually reach the handle the pull the door closed. The width of the car is not much smaller than a 3-series but it's noticeable that things I'm used to are missing, most annoyingly the cup holders. WHO builds a car these days with no cup or can holders? The aircon and heating is the cheap version with knobs rather than digital settings and I found it very difficult to get the temperature right. The Bluetooth settings for the phone are identical to my new 3-series and I managed to figure them out myself which was quite a surprise. The onboard computer is also the same as on the more expensive models -giving mpg information, miles to next fill up and so on. This brings me to something I found really surprising. I was getting 53 mpg on my old 3-series after 85,000 miles. I expected that the 1 series with only a 1.8 diesel engine and a much smaller, lighter body, should have beaten that but it doesn't. The computer says it's only 46 mpg after 8000 miles. I could put it down to the bad driving of people who've had it before me but I think it should be better.
When buying the Sport or the SE models you expect some extra gizmos to be thrown in on a BMW. If that's the case on this one then I really wonder what they could possibly leave out on the cheaper models as there's next to nothing on here. There's no parking sensor for example and no cruise control either - both things I won't do without on a car if it's as expensive as this. I already mentioned the lack of cup holders and the dumbed down temperature control system. The car allegedly has Efficient Dynamics but since the most obvious evidence of that would be the auto start-stop which only works when the outside temp is over 3 degrees, I've not seen too much evidence that it works because the weather has been so awful since I've had it. It feels a lot like someone has been mean with the sound insulation and I've found the car to be really noisy on the motorways (which is where I do most of my driving) and I seem to spend all my time turning up the radio in order to hear it.
I expected that the 1800 engine on such a small car would mean it had quite a bit of 'poke' but the acceleration is disappointing especially in the higher gears. I need to change gear at the kind of speed where the larger 2 litre engine will just accelerate without a gear change. It's a six-gear engine but there's not really enough difference between 5th and 6th.
I have one thing to really praise about the car and that's the Sports seating. I've always bought SE models rather than Sport as I feared the suspension might be too hard. I love the seats on my SE 3-series but I've been completely bowled over by the Sport seats which wrap around your body very supportively. I would have to advise anyone who's a bit tubby to check the seats before ordering as they aren't very wide. If you have a big butt, check that it fits.
I cannot give you much information on the costs of running the 118d other than saying I'm very disappointed by the fuel consumption. Since I get a car through work I never see any of the costs so even if this were my full-time car instead of a loaner, I wouldn't be able to tell you that either. I cannot see why the 1-series should be any cheaper to run than the larger models.
~Did I change my mind? No, my prejudices are still in tact~
When the 1-series was introduced it was derided by many as "Perfect for people who want a BMW but can't afford a proper one". At risk of offending anyone who's actually got one (and there aren't many reviews on here to suggest that too many members are going to hate me for saying it) I've not changed my mind about this car. I still think it's a 'hairdresser' car, better suited to a single person who hasn't got much to carry around and only has friends with very short legs. Sounds like one for Snow White! If I were spending my own money and wanted a car of that sort of size, I would buy an Audi A3 for the better leg and boot space or more likely a Golf. I just don't think the 1-series represents value for money. You can get a much better car with a lot more features for the same money. The 118d Sport starts at nearly 24k - frankly that's just ridiculous.
Summary: I'm not in anyway tempted to swap my 3-series for this.