Drive and conclusion

The biggest change on this car is as mentioned previously – the new diesel engine. From the modular B family engines comes the B37 1.5l turbodiesel that churns out 116 hp (huh.) and a 520i equalling 270 Nm of torque. These figures ensure that the 116d powers its way from a standing start to 100 km/h in a decent 10.3 seconds, although in the real world it feels a little faster.

The speedy perception you get from driving this car comes courtesy of the amount of torque the diesel engine puts out, and delivers a whole lot of fun as you’d expect from a BMW hatchback. It’s no hot-hatch, but it’s going to feel a lot quicker than just about any petrol powered hatch (and even some entry level sedans) simply because it can really move its four occupants with all that torque.

Floor the pedal on a wet road and you’ll find that the 1er has enough torque to spin the rear wheels and engage traction control to make sure you’re still pointing in the same direction as the rest of the road. Drive like a normal person and you’ll be pleasantly rewarded with the amount of go this car has. You won’t find yourself complaining that the car is slow or lacks energy (direct dialect translation) unless you’ve just come off an M135i.

The chassis is also classic BMW – that is, it’s well balanced, has excellent body control and doesn’t lean much into corners. The car is also excellent to weave around traffic in because it’s small, nimble and very easy to drive. The only downside to all of its dynamism is that the suspension is set up a little bit stiff to create the sporty feeling, which means that passengers won’t necessarily be the most cossetted while you zip around traffic.

The party piece of the 116d is probably its fuel consumption though. As a diesel, you’d expect a lot from it naturally. Just how much? Well I achieved 20km/l driving mostly on the highways. With a 52 litre tank, that roughly equates to about a 1000 km. Even if you didn’t, it’s still going to take you a long time to get through the fuel, so it’s pretty damn frugal.

So while this car gets pretty much nothing at all in terms of optional equipment (there’s no satnav, cruise control, reverse camera, leather seats etc) it’s still plenty of fun to drive and plenty more economical at that. It is a little bare bones, but at $138,800 (as of 21 Nov 2015) I dare you to find something more fun, frugal and carries this level of desirability than the 116d.

In Summary

We Like

Does about a thousand kilometres per full tank; definitely drives like a bimmer despite being the baby

We Don't

Interior is a bit dated and plain; doesn’t have much bells and whistles

Verdict

If you’re looking to start your ownership of a BMW or even your first car, this is a probably a good bet

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Engine

Engine Capacity 1496cc
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 16.5:1
Bore x Stroke (90.0 x 84.0)mm
Power 116bhp @ 4000rpm
Torque 270Nm @ 1750rpm
Power to Weight 83.2 bhp per ton

Performance

Acceleration 10.3s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 200 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 24.4 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 8 -speed Auto
Drive Type FR
Steering Electric

Measurements

Body Type 5 Door Hatch
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4329 x 1765 x 1432) mm
Wheelbase 2690 mm
Kerb Weight 1395 kg

Brakes