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Best Small Car
Against barrage of new contenders, the BMW 125i
Sport Line takes this trophy yet again
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Power: 165kW Torque: 310Nm Fuel consumption: 5.9L/100km ANCAP:
HHHHH Price: From $54,340 (indicative drive away)
THIS YEAR, the BMW 1 Series overcame new competition
in the form of the Infiniti Q30, Renault Megane and Subaru
Levorg – all widely varying interpretations of what makes a
premium small car.
Evolution of the BMW 1 Series since its introduction in 2004
has seen the rear-wheel-drive model stay at the top of its class
for driver appeal. BMW has also proven in various vehicles that
it can make cars with benchmark ergonomics, and the 125i
Sport Line is no exception.
When it comes to finding the optimal driving position for your
size, the BMW 1 Series is king. Small-framed people through to
those well over 180cm tall can get into the 1 Series and get
comfortable, yet somehow there seems to be no wasted space.
It’s in these two areas – the seemingly telepathic handling
and its brilliant ergonomics – where the 125i really puts its nose
ahead of the opposition. Frankly, it really needed to in order to
offset the points it gave away due to its premium price.
The 125i costs $54,340 on the road, making it the most
expensive non-electric vehicle in the category. While it did
suffer a penalty for that, its depreciation score was slightly
above average for the category, indicating buyers in the
second-hand market still rate the 1 Series highly.
Under the bonnet is BMW’s 2.0 -litre, turbocharged petrol
engine, which, following an update to the 1 Series range in
November 2016, produces 165kW (up from 160kW) and 310Nm.
Impressively, this increase in output coincided with a reduction
in the vehicle’s fuel consumption (down from 6.5L/100km to
5.9L/100km). The flow-on effect of this lower fuel consumption
is a reduction in exhaust emissions from 151g/km to 134g/km.
The 125i also has strong safety credentials, including front
and rear parking sensors, a rear camera, lane departure
warning and a pedestrian warning feature.
Its interior, while intimate, still conveys the message that this
is a luxury car, albeit downsized into a sporty hatchback. The
fascia and door trims are finished in BMW’s typically restrained
style, and this ‘happy medium’ is evident throughout the car – it
has everything you need and nothing you don’t. Minor controls
such as audio and driving modes are clearly laid out and logical
to use without looking like labelled kitchen containers.
The BMW 125i Sport Line is a deserving winner. Although
pricey, it’s crystal clear where that expenditure goes.
2ND PLACE Volvo V40
There’s no doubt Volvo has been
increasing its presence in premium new
car market segments, and the V40 is a
great example. With an indicative drive-
away price of $48,368, it’s about $6000
less than the class-winning BMW.
The Volvo also bettered the BMW in
fuel consumption, insurance costs and
standard features. It was actually a
tight tussle between these two for the
top spot, with a sizeable gap back to
third place. The V40’s 140kW 2.0 -litre
turbocharged petrol engine provides
ample performance, and although more
efficient than the BMW’s powerplant,
it’s also down 25kW on the BMW.
Volvo has clearly stepped up its game
in build and finish but lost some ground
to BMW on its on-the-road scores.
3RD PLACE Mercedes A 180
Rounding out the top three this year is
Mercedes-Benz’s small car star, the
A-Class. Although the A 180 finished
third, one area where all three finalists
are level is in build and finish.
Mercedes is no newcomer to exquisite
interiors, and the BMW and the Volvo are
the only other players with the potential
to match or even better it. The A 180’s
on-the-road scores did see it drop back,
which is due in part to its smaller 1.6 -
litre turbocharged petrol engine. With
90kW, it’s significantly down on output
compared with the first and second
place-getters, yet is almost neck and
neck in fuel consumption.
Nonetheless, the A 180 is the cheapest
of the top three and is still a rewarding
drive due to its inherently excellent
chassis and suspension set-up.
The V40 (above) and the A 180 (below).
OPEN ROAD 37
OR0317_BC_02 Small Under + Over.indd 37
13/02/2017 9:32 am
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