BMW 1 Series 118i Review
Home improvement

Story by Joe Yeo Photos by Raymond Lai
27 Nov 2011

With the recently launched second generation model, BMW finally have the chance to iron out the previous gen 1 Series’ shortcomings. We find out if it has been successful in doing so.

Introduction, styling

The first generation E81 BMW 1 Series first made its appearance in 2004 in Europe but for one reason or another, it wasn’t till 2008 that the 1 Series was finally offered here in Singapore. To describe that it had received mixed reactions upon its launch here can hardly be wrong – the base model five-door 118i hardly rattled sales of the similarly priced but more exciting and prettier Volkswagen Golf GTI while the E82 two-door coupe model saw more success in replicating the larger and more expensive 3 Series coupe’s recipe on a smaller scale and at a more affordable price.

Now, just over three years after the original 1 Series first landed on our shores, BMW is launching the second generation F20 1 Series five-door hatchback just months after its European debut. There is no new three-door, coupe or cabriolet models on offer for now though – the current coupe and cabriolet were updated recently and will soldier on for a while longer.

I’ve never been a fan of the outgoing 1 Series five-door hatch’s styling as it looked awkward from most angles, the overtly large headlamps give it a cross-eyed look from the front and the sides are an extreme interpretation of Chris Bangle’s Flame Surfacing design ethos while the rear looks rather nondescript – Hyundai i30 hint, hint. Moreover, the only five-door model offered, the 118i ran on smaller wheels than the rest of the 1 Series range and it didn’t do its looks any good.

At 4324mm in length, the new model is longer than its predecessor. Bangle’s Flame Surfacing elements might be gone from the new car but it not only has retained the old model’s overall proportions and once again, design elements like the nondescript rear that this time some say mimics the current Volkswagen Polo and the cross-eyed nose are evident. The nose especially looks awkward thanks to oversized headlamps that seem to have been plucked off a 5 Series GT while the extreme size of the double kidney grille makes it look like a pig nose. On the upside, the new model has retained some of the old car’s traditional BMW styling elements like the Hofmeister kink on the rear doors and long bonnet.

The new model is available in either Sport or Urban Lines. The two different Lines differ on the outside via the different ally wheel designs, the colour of the slats on the radiator grille, the design of the air inlets on the front bumper and so on.

All in all, the new model is unmistakably a 1 Series in proportion and overall styling but I personally  think that BMW should have done better with the front end styling, which to me at least, makes it no less prettier than its controversial looking predecessor. Styling is a subjective matter nonetheless and I'm sure that there'll be some out there who appreciate the new model's looks than i can ever will.

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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 170bhp @ 4800rpm
Torque 250Nm @ 1500rpm
Power to Weight 124.1 bhp per ton


Acceleration 7.4s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 225 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 17.2 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 6 -speed Manual
Drive Type FF


Body Type 5 Door Hatch
(L x W x H)
(4324 x 1765 x 1421) mm
Wheelbase 2690 mm
Kerb Weight 1370 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity 52 L