BMW 1 Series 116i Review
Hitting from the baseline

Story and Photos by Joe Yeo
5 Oct 2012

The 116i is the most affordable way to enter the motoring world of the Blue Propeller.

Introduction, styling

While the 3 Series saloon has been the mainstay of the BMW range all over the world, it isn’t the most affordable way to go motoring in a BMW. That honour goes to the 1 Series.

First introduced way back in 2004, the original 1 Series offered traditional BMW virtues like dynamic rear-wheel drive handling for not significantly more money than a humble Volkswagen Golf. The styling of the original 1 Series though, drew mixed reactions – there were some that loved it and then there are those who simply loathed the way it looked, with this writer falling into the latter category.

So when BMW announced the new, second generation 1 Series back in late 2011, I thought I’d seen the back of the, in my opinion at least, ungainly looking first gen car. To my surprise, the second gen baby BMW, dubbed the F20 featured a nose that looked almost awkward as the original model.    

More than six months on into its product life cycle, the 1 Series’ nose still looks awkward thanks to those overtly large headlamps and the extreme dimensions of the traditional BMW double kidney grille. The oversized grille and headlamps look out of place on a relatively compact model like the 1 Series – they look like they’ve been poached off a bigger model like the 5 Series. While the Sport-trimmed 118i we tested some time back featured black vertical bars on the grille, the Urban-trimmed base model 116i tested here features silver-grey coloured vertical elements on the grille that has somehow improved the 1 Series’ front end stare a tad. 

The rear looks rather nondescript – there are even strong hints of Volkswagen Polo in the shape of the tail lamps from some angles. The 116i runs on similarly sized wheels as the 118i’s but its multi-spoke design somehow gives it a more elegant stance than the more expensive model. Oddly enough, all 1 Series models don’t feature a model nameplate on the boot lid so other than the colour of the grille inserts, wheels and the ‘Urban’ or ‘Sport’ badge on the front wings, there’ll be no other way to mark a 116i out from a 118i.

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Engine Capacity 1598cc
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 10.5:1
Bore x Stroke (85.8 x 77.0)mm
Power 136bhp @ 4400rpm
Torque 220Nm @ 1350rpm
Power to Weight 99.6 bhp per ton


Acceleration 9.1s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 210 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 18.2 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 8 -speed Auto
Drive Type FR


Body Type 5 Door Hatch
(L x W x H)
(4324 x 1765 x 1421) mm
Wheelbase 2690 mm
Kerb Weight 1365 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity 52 L