Hot diesel BMW 1 Series serves up plenty of thrills – Especially the 125d M Sport
Added: 5th of July 2016
The BMW 125d is the most powerful diesel version of the BMW 1 Series hatchback yet and is one of the best small family estate cars. It’s desirable, good to drive and surprisingly cheap to run. It has excellent performance, good ride comfort with best infotainment system in the class. The new 125d also averages 57.6mpg, while CO2 emissions of 129g/km put it in the 19% company car tax band; just one band above the 120d. On the ROAD price for the 125d M Sport ranges anywhere between £29,310 to £34,225, depending on the options you select. Efficiency improves to 58.9mpg and 126g/km if you specify the optional eight-speed auto gearbox, as fitted to our test car, although this isn't enough to bump the car into a lower tax band. The 125d comes exclusively in M Sport trim, which brings a range of sporty touches, including 18-inch alloy wheels, sports seats and firmer, sports suspension. The 2.0-litre diesel engine feels strong and flexible in all traffic conditions, while the smooth auto gearbox perfectly compliments it. You can knock the box into a sport mode that makes it kick down earlier, but the engine produces so much torque (332lb ft) that there are few occasions where you would want or need to use this option. Unlike most of its rivals, the 1 Series is rear-wheel drive, and this helps give it excellent balance. It darts into bends and then grips hard, while the steering is well weighted. The firmed-up M Sport suspension also helps agility because it allows little roll in bends. With an enormous 450Nm of maximum torque from just 1,500rpm, though, the 125d always has razor-sharp response and lots of deep-chested urge, which makes it as fast as a petrol hot hatch like the Ford Focus ST. The sports suspension is 10mm lower than standard, and certainly helps put a smile on your face on a twisty road. Thanks to BMW’s Drive Performance Control system, the ride’s not uncomfortable, however. The dash layout is pretty faultless; the instruments are clear and the centre console is easy to navigate. Most of the materials used in the car look smart too. The M Sport trim comes with all the gear you are likely to want, including sports seats, a DAB radio and BMWs slick iDrive system. It also brings a smattering of M Sport badges both in and out the car, plus a chunky leather steering wheel. Should I buy one? Definitely – as the 125d makes some sense as a company car because it combines its strong performance with low emissions. You can choose from four driving modes, ranging from economy-minded ECO PRO to Comfort, Sport and Sport plus. This means the 125d can be smooth and relaxing one moment, but racy the next. The thrills don’t come cheap, though. With the £1,490 optional eight-speed auto gearbox – which we’d recommend – the list price reaches almost £30,000. And that’s before you add leather trim or any other options. Verdict TBMW 125d M Sport is at the top of the 1 Series range, and feels like it. With a subtly sporty body-kit, incredible performance, great handling and amazing fuel economy, this is a worthy alternative to petrol-engine hot hatches. It does not come cheap though and when you add a few options, you’ll be paying well over £32,000.