A BMW 1 Series that costs nothing in road tax? That’ll be the 116d EfficientDynamics. It’s the first BMW to emit less than 100g/km, but the company says there are no compromises; the styling, dynamics and performance are exactly what fans will expect.
A car with sub-100g/km CO2 emissions is nothing new in this class – Volkswagen has the Golf BlueMotion and Ford has the Focus ECOnetic – but the BMW is one of the quickest.
With 114bhp it has 10bhp more than both rivals, and covers 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds – nearly a second up on the Golf. The ED model uses a 1.6-litre diesel (rather than the 2.0-litre in a standard 116d), but with just two-tenths separating the 0-62mph times, the gap in performance is barely noticeable – especially with the car in Sport mode, which sharpens throttle responses.
The accurate, short-shift box makes it easy to move up and down the gears quickly, too. An auto is also available; this claims the same tax-free CO2 emissions as the manual.
The engine is refined, too, although the stop-start set-up could be smoother as the car judders a bit when the engine shuts off.
The 1 Series’ reputation has been built on its handling, so is this eco model, with its eco-orientated tyres, still just as good?
Admittedly some sharpness has been lost; there’s more of a tendency to understeer and the car feels a little less agile. But the dynamics are still up there with the class best. And it rides just as comfortably as any other 1 Series in the line-up.
It’s still firm and, thanks to springs that are 10mm lower than standard, it’s more prone to shocks, but it copes better with rough roads than the old 1 Series ever did.
More good news comes with the styling, which is identical to that of a standard 1 Series; there isn’t even any EfficientDynamics badging to set the newcomer apart from a regular 116d.
Incredibly, the price is the same as for a 116d, too. It starts from £20,885, but still includes a USB connection, all-round electric windows and a leather multifunction wheel. Specify a Golf BlueMotion to the same level and it’ll cost you £125 more.