27 September 2012 by Paul Clarke
Model/Engine size: 116d EfficientDynamics
Fuel economy combined: 74.3mpg
Green-Car-Guide rating: 9/10
The BMW 116d EfficientDynamics is the brand’s most efficient model, offering fuel economy of 74.3mpg , emissions of 99g/km CO2, and a 13% company car tax BIK rate.
• Unique package of rear-wheel drive with 74mpg and 99g/km CO2 emissions
• No compromises; like a normal BMW to drive
• Latest 1 Series provides more room in the rear seats and boot
• Only main downside is the frontal styling
The latest BMW 1 Series went on sale in the UK in September 2011, but only now do we have a low emission version offering 99g/km CO2 – which equates to 74.3mpg. This allows company car drivers to enter into BMW ownership with just a 13% benefit in kind rate. It also means that this BMW is exempt from the London Congestion Charge, as well as having no road tax to pay.
The BMW 1 Series is the only car in the compact hatchback class to offer rear-wheel drive. This is ideal for driving enthusiasts , however the vast majority of people who buy a car in this segment don’t care that it’s rear-wheel drive. More worryingly, it appears that many people who drive such cars don’t actually know if they’re driving a front or a rear-wheel drive car. Rear-wheel drive cars are more expensive to build, and space in the rear is compromised by a transmission tunnel, so it’s perhaps little surprise that BMW is looking to move to a front-wheel drive platform for its small hatchbacks in the future. So the current 1 Series may be the last chance to buy a small BMW with entertaining rear-wheel drive handling.
From the driver’s seat, the cabin is very familiar BMW territory. The dashboard shares its overall appearance with its larger 3 and 5 Series family members, with many similar controls, including eight large buttons for different radio stations – compared to some rivals these are simple and effective. The iDrive controller is also easy to use compared to some other systems.
One of the big advances for this current 1 Series is the extra space in the boot, and in the rear seats, resulting in life in the rear being less claustrophobic than in the previous generation model.
The exterior design has also changed. The rear looks better than the last model, which had two horizontal lines across the back of the car, which gave it a slightly utilitarian appearance. The side profile is similar to before; all the weight still appears to be at the rear of the car.
But what has BMW done to the front of the new 1 Series? The last 1 Series didn’t have a particularly visually-appealing front end, but if anything, the new 1 Series is no better. From a company that generally creates attractive-looking cars, we’re just not sure how the front of the new 1 Series could have ended up looking so challenging. All we can hope for is that there is an early mid-life design refresh and they give the front end a mini-3 or 5 Series look, which reshapes the headlights and reduces the amount of metal between the lights and the kidney grille.
The 116d ED offers driving enthusiasts typical BMW traits such as rear-wheel drive handling, front wheels that are only used for communicative steering, and ideal weight distribution. The 116d ED shares the same platform with the M135i, which, green issues aside, is one of the best cars we’ve driven all year. Admittedly, it’s the engine and transmission in the M135i that really make it a very special driving experience, but it shows that the new 1 Series, regardless of powertrain, has a basically competent chassis. The 116d ED also combines good handling with a comfortable ride. Overall it’s not as quiet as a 3 Series.
Rear-wheel drive handling is rewarding for drivers who place a high value on such a characteristic, but most people buying a car in this class don’t have this on their priority list. Combined with the fact that other cars in this class offer an easier and more comfortable driving experience, the 1 Series certainly has its work cut out to attract buyers in a very competitive sector.
The 116d ED comes with a six-speed manual transmission (with the trademark BMW stiff-to-engage reverse gear), and three drive settings: ECO-PRO, Comfort and Sport. ECO-PRO adjusts the throttle for the best economy, whereas Sport provides more response.
For buyers who do choose the 116d ED the key thing is that there are no real compromises that you have to suffer to reap the benefits of a car that is theoretically capable of 70mpg. OK, so it doesn’t have the performance of the M135i, but compared to the M135i’s 35.3mpg, you’re looking at enjoying more than double the fuel economy. And you can still have some fun with the 116d with the Sport setting selected and the traction control disengaged.
The official combined economy figure of 74.3mpg , along with 99g/km CO2, is achieved by a 1.6-litre, 116hp diesel engine, and helped by the range of EfficientDynamics technologies applied to the car: auto start-stop, brake energy regeneration, ECO-PRO mode, electric power steering (EPS), lightweight engineering, and reduced rolling resistance tyres. You have no choice but to opt for 16-inch wheels with this model.
The 116d ED has a company car benefit in kind rating of just 13%, it’s exempt from paying the London Congestion Charge , and road tax is free .
Interestingly, in terms of real-life miles per gallon, we actually achieved an almost identical figure as we did with the 320d EfficientDynamics: 61mpg. Both the 320d ED and 116d ED seem to be optimised to be most efficient on motorways.
The 116d ED costs £20,885. Standard equipment includes items such as air conditioning, electric windows and Bluetooth. Another feature is Dynamic Stability Control+ (DSC+), which includes Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) including Brake Assist, Automatic Stability Control (ASC), Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Dynamic Brake Control (DBC) and Dynamic Traction Control (DTC).
Our test car had various items of optional equipment including BMW Professional Multimedia Package, £1,995; leather upholstery, £1,115; interior comfort package, £650; and driver comfort package, £500. In total, all the options came to £6,580, taking the total price of the car to a substantial £27,465.
The 1 Series range as a whole can be specified in ES, SE, M Sport, Sport and Urban models, but EfficientDynamics is a model specification all of its own.
The BMW 116d EfficientDynamics offers a BMW driving experience with the promise of 74mpg and emissions of just 99g/km CO2. Crucially, this translates to a benefit in kind rating of just 13%, so this is a car that should be attractive to company car drivers. The extra space in the rear of this latest model adds to the appeal for families.
If the prospective buyer also appreciates rear-wheel drive handling, then the 116d EfficientDynamics offers a unique and appealing package. It’s only really let down by the questionable front end design, and by that fact that most people looking for a car in this segment would be perfectly happy with front-wheel drive. On that note, the new Volkswagen Golf is about to be launched, and a low emission BlueMotion model will be part of the line-up. So keen drivers may value the 1 Series more highly, but in reality, for the typical compact hatchback buyer, the 116d ED may be on the shortlist behind more mainstream hatchback rivals. The BMW 116d EfficientDynamics gets a Green-Car-Guide rating of 9 out of 10.
Fuel economy extra urban: 83.1mpg
Fuel economy urban: 64.2mpg
Real-life economy on test: 61.0mpg
CO2 emissions: 99 g/km
Green rating: VED band A – first year £0
Weight: 1295 Kg
Company car tax liability (2012/13): 13%
Insurance group: 15
Power: 116 hp
Max speed: 121 mph
0-62mph: 10.5 seconds
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