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BMW 116d review

The BMW 116d is the cheapest, greenest car in BMW's range. Read our review to see if it drives like a BMW too.

"It may be the baby of the BMW range, but it's still good fun"

What is it?
The BMW 116d is the entry-level model in BMW’s entire line-up. It’s also the cheapest diesel-powered model the German firm offers. But despite being the baby of the firm’s range, the 116d is pretty clever thanks to its new 116hp 2.0-litre diesel engine and EfficientDynamics technology.

What does it look like?
Whether you like the looks or not, there’s no denying that the 116d certainly looks more special than its biggest competitor – the Audi A3. And whereas I reckon the looks of the current BMW 5 Series – which arrived at a similar time to the 1 Series – haven’t stood the test of time particularly well, the 1 Series still looks great. The mix of sculpted curves and interesting surfaces do a good job of disguising the fact that the 116d is just a conventional three-door hatchback too.

What’s it like inside?
The 116’s interior is a game of two halves. If you’re relegated to the back seats, taller passengers will find the rear a bit cramped on a long journey. But if you buy a three-door 1 Series, you probably aren’t planning to carry passengers very often. That said, the seats themselves are actually pretty comfy.

Up front is much more premier league. The seats are supportive and set nice and low to make the car feel sportier. Getting the three-spoke steering wheel in the perfect position is easy too, and the whole cockpit wraps around the driver in proper BMW style. And despite being BMW’s baby, the 116d is really nicely built – all the materials you touch feel high quality, and the switches, knobs and buttons all have a pleasing thunk to them.

What’s it like to drive?
The 1 Series is still unique in the segment for being rear-wheel-drive, which makes the car feel just that little bit more planted in the bends than the front-wheel-drive Audi. The Beemer rides well, the six-speed gearbox has a precise, knuckly action and has nicely weighted steering too.

EfficientDynamics dictates that the 116 is geared long to keep revs and thus fuel consumption down. You get used to the gears, but I find it’s best to ignore the shift indicator that’s in the speedo and judge when to change gear yourself.

The stop-start system works well too, although both Mazda and Toyota’s versions of the technology are more sophisticated and smoother. Obviously, if you drive enthusiastically, the mpg will suffer, but if you drive sensibly across o a mix of road and traffic types, I reckon you’ll return close to the official claimed figure of 64.2mpg

Verdict
BMW’s the entry-level car is also its greenest. The suite of EfficientDynamics really works, but not at to the detriment of the 1 Series’ fun to drive character. The 116d is still better to punt around than the Audi A3 too. As an everyday ownership proposition the 116d is really impressive, as long as you don’t need too much rear seat space and can afford the £17,605 asking price.

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Car Specs - BMW 116d 3dr

Engine:2.0-litre diesel, 116hp
0-62mph:10.2 seconds
Top speed:124mph
Economy/emissions:64.2mpg/118g/km CO2
Price/On sale £17,605/Now

We rate:
Genuinely economical...
Yet still fun to drive

We slate:
Baby BMW is still expensive
Still a squeeze in the back

Rating: Image removed.

by Tom Phillips

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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