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Test Drive Review: BMW 120d xDrive

By Motor Match • 14-08-2018

A combination of hatchback boot, a gutsy but efficient engine and four-wheel drive comes close to everyday perfection.

Test Drive Review: BMW 120d xDrive

Should I buy a used BMW 1 Series?

Always popular as a used car; should you be putting the BMW 1 Series on your list of used cars to consider buying?

  • Great drivers car; if you enjoy being behind the wheel you'll love this car
  • Legroom for rear seat passengers is a little restricted
  • Re-design has made it better looking and far more appealing

What’s new about the BMW 1 Series?

The times they are a’changing for the 1 Series, and along with a neater, prettier face with standard LED daytime running lights there is a general upgrade in terms of equipment.

Climate control is now standard across the range, as is a 6.5-inch integrated screen at the top of the centre console. There are new engines with three, four and six cylinders, with efficiency figures as impressive as 83mpg and 89g/km.

The drivers seat view in a BMW 1 Series


What does the BMW 1 Series look like?

The 1 Series hatchback is a car that, ever since its original launch more than a decade ago, has struggled to find a look that really works. The previous-generation Coupe nailed it, but there’s Good News. The revisions to the front and rear styling give the new hatchback a much greater presence and the ability to hold gazes much better than before.

BMW 1 Series seen in two thirds profile from the rear


How practical is the BMW 1 Series?

This isn’t a wholesale change from the outgoing 1 Series, so you’ll still be quite short of legroom behind a six-foot driver. The long door pockets are split into compartments capable of carrying all sorts of items, which is useful because the cup holders ahead of the gear lever are a bit too crammed in towards the console to be ideal. Little inserts can turn those into coin trays instead.

Open boot of a BMW 1 Series


What’s the BMW 1 Series like to drive?

Mechanically, the 1 Series feels absolutely sublime. From the beautifully damped rocker motion of the gear lever to the seamless action of the eight-speed transmission itself, through accurate and precise steering and the instant reactions of the on-demand xDrive four-wheel drive system, the baby BMW feels absolutely on-point.

The 120d xDrive has far more grip and traction than torque, so even really brutal treatment can only cause it to step out of line very slightly. But the ability to shift the car from an understeering attitude to a neutral, balanced and incredibly poised one, just using the power – thank you, 50:50 weight distribution – is intoxicating.

The engine’s vibrations are damped well, but it sounds coarser than expected. Another gripe is that the gearbox can hunt for the correct gear annoyingly often in Drive mode. Those eight ratios do make it long-legged, though, with the engine putting in a measly 1,750rpm shift at about 73mph.

Premium cars are full of settings, these days, and the iDrive system takes some time to fully get to grips with. There are endless sub-menus to explore, so at least the rotary dial system is intuitive and rapid.

Underneath the bonnet of a BMW 1 Series


Is the BMW 1 Series value for money?

This has to be called a case of getting what you pay for. The 120d xDrive is good enough to justify its price. It’s exactly the sort of car that will do everything that you ask, and do it well. It’s not every day you drive home in something economical, fun to drive, capable in wet and snowy conditions and with a top-drawer premium feel. That’s a lot of ticked boxes at any price.


Should I buy a BMW 1 Series?

The 1 Series has always had gratuitous company car appeal thanks to low emissions and the right badge, but the xDrive models use a little bit more fuel for debatable practical gain in the eyes of high-mileage motorway plodders. This exact car will probably be bought by parents looking for a compact, refined but relatively unstoppable family car. They’ll need to bear in mind the restricted rear legroom, though.


BMW 120d – The Knowledge

Model: BMW 120d xDrive

Price: from £22,195

Engine: Four-cylinder diesel producing 182bhp and 295lb/ft

Transmission: Six-speed manual driving the front wheels

Performance: Top speed 135mph, 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds

Fuel Economy: 67.3mpg

Emissions: 110g/km


 

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