Quick test - BMW's 'hotish' 125i

Road tests

The sexier side to BMW’s new 1 Series range, the three-door hatch, has landed in South Africa.

The designers have created a premium compact car with a long bonnet, rearward-set passenger compartment, long wheelbase and short overhangs. There’s an athletic look to Beemer’s latest baby from the side, but more importantly it’s bigger than its predecessor in just about every way.

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Long bonnet, short overhangs and rearset cabin give the 1 Series 3-door model a racy, streamlined look.uyers can order new 3-door with a choice of two or three rear seats.

The nose of the new three-door is largely identical to the recently-launched five-door, but aficionados may notice a slight tweak to the grille, which leans a bit more forward.

Inside it’s business as usual with technologies like iDrive on offer, and a classy free-standing flat-screen monitor integrated in the instrument display. The front seats have an easy-entry sliding function for rear passengers to enter and exit. Longer doors mean larger door pockets, while an optional storage package offers compartments in the rear side panels and pockets in the seat backs. Also worth noting is that you can order a back seat accommodating either two or three passengers.

Buyers have a choice of two trim levels – Sport Line and Urban Line which, as they suggest, are either more on the racy or utilitarian side.


Powering the new range are the same petrol engines as in the five-door.

The big-daddy M135i runs a 3-litre straight-six turbo pushing 235kW and 450Nm. Beemer claims this baby will hit 100km/h from standstill in 5.1 seconds and average 8l/100km. The M135i gets a customised cooling system, M performance control and engine sound tuning, plus a different six-speed manual box (eight-speed auto is an option across the range).

The rest of the range at local launch comprises two four-cylinder turbo petrols in the form of the 2-litre turbo 125i (160kW/310Nm) and the 1.6-litre 116i (100kW/220Nm). A turbo 118i (125kW) is on the cards for local introduction in November. Strangely, BMW SA will not be bringing in the 120d in three-door guise, meaning there isn’t a diesel offering in the new range.


We got a scoop test of the 125i auto and I reckon it’s safe to use a term like hot hatch to describe it. At 6.4 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint at Gauteng altitude we were just two-tenths off Munich’s sea level claim. That kind of performance makes it a threat to most GTIs and OPCs out there.

We were also quite impressed with the styling, even though we had the more sedate Urban spec. The car looks low and sleek, with the long doors and hatch lid making for quite a slick package.

And the optional 8-speed ‘box should definitely be considered. It’s quite intuitive in its operation and is always adapting gears to your driving style. The little “Driving Experience Control” button on the centre console, which lets you play between Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes spices things up nicely. Rear-wheel drive and near 50:50 weight balance makes the handling of the new hatch quite an enjoyable experience too. -Star Motoring


116i Manual - R265 500

116i Auto - R283 500

125i Manual - R336 000

125i Auto - R354 000

M135i Manual - R445 500

M135i Auto - R465 600

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