Rock solid was the first impression. Yes, I know that’s a corny old cliché, but the BMW 120d really does feel as if it’s been drilled and ground out of a solid piece of iron ore.
The steering is heavy duty, too. And what it lacks in lightness it makes up for with the sort of feel you forget when driving front wheel drive cars. It’s totally uncorrupted and very nearly perfect. To the extent you immediately feel at one with the car. That’s what BMW is advertising. That’s what the car is about.
The ride quality’s good, too. At least it is on the standard 16” wheels with 205/55 tyres fitted to the 120dSE I drove. And not a shake or a rattle anywhere.
BMW has squeezed an extra 13bhp out of its 2.0 litre diesel, plus a total of 340Nm torque at 2,000rpm and puts it through a 6-speed manual box. That means that you’re through 2nd gear very quickly, but you soon learn to short-change into 3rd. 6th gives you 37.5mph per 1,000 rpm on the speedo, so at motorway speeds you’re bang on peak torque and the car whispers along delivering well over 40mpg. Unless, of course, you decide you need a bit more speed. But even at 90mph you’re still under 2,500rpm so you’re not going to be visiting the pumps in a hurry. According to the trip computer I wound up averaging 40.3mpg.
I could bang on about the weird styling, but everyone else already has so that’s a bit of a dead debate. Nevertheless, the front is very attractive from several angles and I reckon it’s going to be one of those ugly ducklings that in people’s minds eventually turns into a swan. After all, the old SAAB 900 was ugly, but now it’s quite a trendy ‘classic’. Same goes for the basking shark Citroen. Okay, the BMW One Series is never going to become a design classic, but give it a year on the roads and most of the people who hate it will start to like it.
There have been reports that it’s cramped. To which my reply is I’m 5’ 9” and can happily sit behind myself. The boot is far from tiny either. And the rear seats flop down easily for carrying things like golf clubs if they won’t lie across the boot. A One Series isn’t space-efficient in the manner of a Honda Jazz or new Mitsubishi Colt. But a front-drive Golf isn’t space-efficient either.
It comes as a bit of a surprise to find that Ones come with no spare wheel. There’s nothing under the boot floor apart from a battery. Not even a Tyrefit kit. The reason is they’re all on run-flat tyres. But not the run-flats that gave a harsh ride on Five Series. On my car they were Michelin Pilot Primacys: grippy, supple, with low rolling resistance.
The more I drove the 120d the more liked it. I got used to the touch or click indicators that are supposed to make autobahn overtaking easier. Block-changing the six-speed box is a cinch. 4th is an awesome gear for clearing traffic when joining a motorway. And the balance of the car on a fast long bend is fantastic. About the only thing I didn’t like was the stink of the interior. Not a South Korean smell. Much sharper. Like Evo-Stick. And when you’re driving a car like the 120d the last thing you need is to be sniffing glue.PRICE/AVAILABILITY
- 116i £15,690
- 116i SE £17,640
- 116i Sport £17,640
- 120i £18,320
- 120i SE £20,270
- 120i Sport £20,170
- 118d £17,340
- 18d SE £19,290
- 118d Sport £19,290
- 120d £18,850
- 120d SE £20,800
- 120d Sport £20,700
SE Spec adds/substitutes:
- Driver and front passenger airbags
- driver and front passenger headbags
- driver and front passenger sidebags
- two stage brake-force display
- Dynamic Stability Control with ASC+T
- corner brake control and dynamic traction control
- front and rear deformation zones
- door reinforcements
- bumpers that pop back into shape after impacts up to 2mph
- first aid kit and warning triangle
- high level third rear brake light
- Thatcham 1 remote alarm
- front inertia reel seatbelts with pyrotechnic latch tensioner
- adaptive belt force limiters and belt restrainers
- three x three-point rear belts
- cabin air microfilter
- electric front windows
- electric rear windows (120i and 120d only)
- headlamp beam height adjustor
- More cloth upholstery
- computer giving average speed
- average fuel consumption
- current fuel consumption
- external temperature and fuel range
- manual front seat height adjustment
- separate stop/start button
- height and rake adjustable steering wheel
- sunvisors with vanity mirrors
- three-spoke steering wheel
- visible VIN
- 60:40 split folding rear seat
- BMW Business radio with single CD player and auxiliary socket
- 6 speakers
- 6.5J x 16” steel wheels with 195/55 R16 tyres
- body coloured bumper rubbing strip, door handles, front and rear lower valences, roof rail gutters (120i and 120d only)
- hatch opening via BMW badge on hatchback
- electrically adjustable body coloured door mirrors
- rear window wash/wipe
- white indicator lenses
Sport Spec adds/substitutes:
- 7 x 16” seven spoke 151 style alloy wheels with 205/55 R16 tyres
- automatic climate control air conditioning
- front armrest
- front fog lamps
- interior auto dimming mirror
- multifunction steering wheel
- lights package
- rear park distance control
- three spoke leather covered sports steering wheel.
- 7 x 16” five spoke 140 style alloy wheels with 205/55 R16 tyres
- automatic climate control
- black Gomera interior trim
- colour coded exterior body parts
- front fog lamps
- sports seats in Motion Design cloth and Sensatec
- sports suspension
- three spoke leather covered sports steering wheel.
Available from September 2004.
- Comfort Pack (rain sensor, cup holder, auto-dimming mirror, front centre armrest, rear park distance control) £560 (£200 SE)
- 6-speed Steptronic automatic transmission £1,360 (120i/120d)
- Bluetooth phone preparation £510 (£430 SE)
- BMW Professional radio, output 6 x 25 watts, better speakers £140
- Professional navigation system, map based display with 6.5” screen £1,695 (SE)
- Business navigation system with 6.5” screen £1,430 (base/Sport) £1,230 (SE)
- CD preparation £35
- HiFi speaker system (10 speakers) £140
- Minidisc player £110
- Professional HiFi surround sound speaker system £680
- 6 CD autochanger £280
- Climate comfort windscreen £235
- Delete model designation badges (Free)
- Electric sliding or venting glass sunroof £645
- Electric rear windows (116i, 118i) £255
- Exterior mirror package of folding heated door mirrors, mirror memory, autodimming when reverse selected, heated screenwasher jets £160
- Mirror package with auto dimming £315 (£205 SE)
- Carpet mats £75
- Front fog lights £140
- Graduated tinted screen £50
- Headlamp washing system £180
- Metallic paint £425
- Front park distance control £275
- Front and rear park distance control £480 (£205 SE)
- Rain sensor with automatic headlamp activation £75
- Sports suspension £195
- Sun protection glass £145
- Towbar with removable ball head £510
- Xenon headlamps for high and low beam £540
- Automatic climate control £1,020
- Cruise control £170
- Extended interior lights package of front/rear reading lights, illuminated vanity mirrors, front footwell lights and puddle lights in doors £170 (Sport/120i/120d)
- Front centre armrest £105
- Interior auto dipping mirror £110
- ISOFIX child seat fixings £105
- Multifunction steering wheel £105
- Modular ski bag £110
- Non-smoker package (Free)
- Sports steering wheel £185
- Storage package £120
- Three folding rear head restraints £15
- Aluminium Kodiak interior trim £205 (£160 on Sport, 120i, 120d)
- Black Gomera interior trim £50 (Free on 120i, 120d)
- Titan Matt interior trim £50 (Free on Sport, 120i, 120d)
- Lumbar support for driver and passenger £185
- Sports seats for driver and passenger £410
- Front seat heaters £220
- Motion Cloth with Sensatec £100
- Boston leather £1,020
- 16” 5 spoke 140 style alloys £630 (£150 on SE, Free on Sport)
- 16” 7 spoke 151 style alloys £480 (STD ON SE, Free on Sport)
- 16” radial 139 style alloys £410 (Free on SE or Sport)
- 17” V-spoke 141 style alloys £785 (£460 on SE, £310 on Sport)
- 17” 5 spoke 142 style alloys £850 (£525 on SE, £375 on Sport)
Prices include a 3 year unlimited mileage manufacturer warranty; 3 years pan-European roadside, home and accident assistance; 12 years no perforation warranty.ENGINES/TRANSMISSIONS
116i 1,596cc 16 valve twin cam Double VANOS 4 cylinder petrol: 86kW (115bhp) at 6,000 rpm; 150Nm (111 lb ft) torque at 4,300 rpm.
120i 1,995cc 16 valve twin cam Double VANOS 4 cylinder petrol: 112kW (150bhp) at 6,200 rpm; 200Nm (148 lb ft) torque at 3,600 rpm.
118d 1,995cc 16 valve common rail 4 cylinder diesel: 91kW (122bhp) at 4,000 rpm; 280Nm (207 lb ft) torque at 2,000 rpm.
120d 1,995cc 16 valve common rail 4 cylinder diesel: 122kW (163bhp) at 6,000 rpm; 340Nm (251 lb ft) torque at 2,000 rpm.
5-speed manual on 116i; 6-speed manual on 120i, 118d and 120d; 6-speed automatic optional on 120i and 120d.DIMENSIONS
Length: 4,227 mm (13’ 11")
Width: 1,751 mm (5’ 9")
Height: 1,430mm (4’ 8")
Luggage capacity: 330/1150 litres
Kerb weight (manual): 1,280kg – 1,425kg
Maximum braked trailer weight 1,200kgPERFORMANCE, FUEL CONSUMPTION
AND CO2 EMISSIONS
116i manual: 0-60 10.5 seconds; top speed 125 mph; combined mpg: 37.7; CO2 emissions: 181g/km. Duty Band C. EU4. IG NA.
120i manual: 0-60 8.4 seconds; top speed 135 mph; combined mpg: 38.2; CO2 emissions: 178g/km. Duty Band C. EU4. IG NA.
120i automatic: 0-60 8.9 seconds; top speed 133 mph; combined mpg: 35.8; CO2 emissions: 190g/km. Duty Band D. EU4. IG NA.
118d manual: 0-60 9.7 seconds; top speed 125 mph; combined mpg: 50.4; CO2 emissions: 150g/km. Duty Band A (diesel). EU4. IG NA.
120d manual: 0-60 7.6 seconds; top speed 137 mph; combined mpg: 49.6; CO2 emissions: 152g/km. Duty Band B (diesel). EU4. IG NA.
120d automatic: 0-60 7.9 seconds; top speed 134 mph; combined mpg: 42.8; CO2 emissions: 176g/km. Duty Band C (diesel). EU4. IG NA.