BMW 116d EfficientDynamics review

1 May, 2015 3:00pm Richard Ingram

We test the BMW 1 Series in its hyper-green EfficientDynamics Plus guise.

Verdict

4
For most buyers, the standard 116d will offer everything they need. It emits 94g/km and returns 78.5mpg, and is ever-so-slightly faster to 62mph. The EfficientDynamics model costs £850 more, but for fleet customers, the money you’ll save on company car tax – and the added fuel economy gains – will be an attractive proposition.

The BMW 1 Series accounts for around 20 per cent of all BMW sales – second only to the bigger 3 Series. A facelifted 3 Series will be revealed this week, and with immaculate timing the facelifted 1 Series has arrived on British shores for our first UK drive

A whopping 75 per cent of 1 Series models are bought on finance, with around a third of all sales going to company car drivers. With that in mind, this 116d EfficientDynamics Plus model is arguably the most important in the facelifted 1 Series range. The new 1.5-litre three-cylinder diesel engine from the MINI Cooper D, which joins an extensive line-up of new four-cylinder diesels, makes it the most efficient BMW diesel ever.

Most economical cars 2015

Like the MINI, the ED Plus gets 114bhp and 270Nm of torque. However, tweaks to the aerodynamics have made it even more economical – posting a phenomenol 83.1mpg and 89g/km of CO2. The new Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion remains the most economical family hatch (returning 88.3mpg) but the BMW isn’t far off the pace.

The sub-100g/km CO2 emissions mean it’s exempt from road tax, plus it falls one Benefit in Kind percentage point over the outgoing Business spec car, too, saving higher rate company car drivers a considerable £104 per year.

But don’t think all these eco changes make it any less fun to drive. All 1 Series models remain rear-wheel drive, and the ED gets exactly the same power and torque figures as the standard 116d.

In the right gear it feels pretty punchy, but the manual gearbox’s tall ratios mean you’ll need to work it quite hard if you want to make fast progress. It’s got quite a notchy action too, making the equivalent Audi A3 look silky smooth. High mileage drivers will be disappointed to hear that there’s no automatic option either, which is a shame because BMW’s eight-speed ZF is among the best in the business.

On the motorway, it’s only slightly less refined than its four-cylinder siblings. Our test car didn’t have the optional adaptive dampers, making it a little less cossetting on the move, but despite the firmer-compound eco tyres, it’s far from uncomfortable. The interior takes a slight step up in quality with some new trim materials scattered around and the supportive front seats make long distances a breeze. Standard kit is pretty impressive, too, and even those with a keen eye will be blissfully unaware you’ve opted for the penny-pinching diesel.

From September all BMW models will come with sat-nav as standard, putting it ahead of its rivals from the off. While the Mercedes A-Class doesn’t even get a DAB radio, the 1 Series boasts this plus 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and a multi-function leather steering wheel. Climate control, rear parking sensors and automatic lights and wipers are also included, as are the new LED rear lights and tweaked bumper designs.

Interior space remains unchanged, though, so while it’s no match for the VW Golf or SEAT Leon, the 360-litre boot – expanding to 1,200-litres with the rear seats down – should be enough for growing families. It’s a similar story with the back seats, which are adequate, but a bit cramped for taller passengers.

As well as the standard 116d and eco-orientated 116d ED Plus, buyers can choose a more powerful 118d or 120d, as well as a range-topping 221bhp 125d. The basic 116i has become the 118i to reflect significant performance gains since the moniker’s introduction in 2004, while the outgoing 118i transfers to the 120i nameplate. As before, performance fans get a choice of 125i and M135i petrols, with the latter getting a 10bhp boost to bring it in line with the 322bhp M235i.

Disqus - noscript

I'm not knocking BMW but compared to a normal hatchback...

Its cramped in the back seats
has a smallish boot
is prodigiously expensive
is "different" looking to some people
is much more expensive to insure and service

... but its free road tax!!!

Seriously, get a Focus or Golf or Auris and run it for years for a fraction of what this will cost overall.

I VERY MUCH DOUBT THAT MPG, THATS NOT REAL WORLD DRIVING THAT'S ON A ROLLING ROAD MACHINE !

....BUT COST EFFECTIVE.

You guys are doing a good job and we thank you but your bias is so apparent it sometimes shakes your credibility. For starters, no car looking this fugly should make it to 5 stars. You should read your own review on the Astra Ecoflex, 1.7ltr, 128 bhp, 76 mpg. It drives great but you gave it a 3 star rating cause its expensive. The Bimmer which will cost 23k to match the Astra and is actually pricier to maintain takes 5 stars. Oh and I don't favour the Astra. The Ford and the VW are actually better because of price.

I can't believe this! The CVT automatic Lexus CT200h was slammed for its 0-62mph figure of 10.3 seconds. This manual BMW "covers' it in 10.5 seconds, "nearly a second up on the Golf". The subjective evaluation of these acceleration figures seems to depend on the vehicle's make and country of origin. BMW's made in Germany are always fast. Lexus, not made in Europe, are always slow.

This car only gets more and more ugly.

Based on my experiences with a 320d efficientdynamics, you won't get within 20 mpg of that figure, ever. It will also suffer from a catalogue of niggling faults, for which the parts to fix will always be "on back order" from BMW Germany....
Something has to be done about these ludicrous "official" MPG claims. They may as well pick the number from thin air.

I agree with the comments on MPG claims. You really do need to say these are not real-life figures.
As for your bias towards certain makes of car, I'm not surprised people complain. It is rather obvious. No doubt this will be a very popular car but I wonder how many are going to private buyers and how many to company car drivers?

Thanks BMW for making our lives prettier. But please follow YOUR own way don't try to get ideas from VW or Mercedes. Get original designers like you used to or else you will become number three again.

I've been looking at all the 99g/km eco diesels and the BMW comes out fairly near the top compared with Golf/A3/Guilietta/Focus/Astra/V50/V40/Octavia.
Not as expensive as some rivals.
Chain cam engine - no rubber band to change - VAG take note.
Insurance Gp 15 - others are 18 and up.
£300 servicing for 5 years
Good performance.
Boot space on a par with the rest. Slightly cramped rear seats.
Some engineering a bit shabby - tailgate strut supports.
Interior trim hard edged where it should be soft - door grab handles.
If anyone can deliver on the economy, then BMW probably can.
The rest do not compare with my current 12yr old Golf Mk IV GT TDI - combined 57.6mpg and has averaged 54mpg over 110k miles.

Is the comment about an auto version correct?
No sign on the website.
Would be very attractive for those like me who need a Congestion Charge buster but don't like the Prius.
Any info welcome

Re BMW's MPG figures, they purely down to driving style. We had a 123d m-sport coupe and managed to get exactly what BMW specified, 64.5 or something like that. Incredibly boring driving though. My early morning sprint (1.5 miles to work) tended to average 33 MPG. I've never had any car get much better than that.

I think the viewer is taking into account the fact that this car is very economical in respect to the 0-60 time. 10 seconds to sixty is reasonable.

Other thing to note is that of course the car is rear wheel drive. Great for handling for most of the year, not great in snow without winter tyres. Saying that, this is meant to have skinny tyres so should be better than most.

About time!

Rear wheel drive handling and a bullet proof chain cam engine with these emissions..... well done BMW! A proper drivers car with a great combination of economy and 0-62 in 10.5 seconds.

I am sure that anyone with good driving skills will be able to get both good fuel economy and pace.

Echoing the points above - it's not that quick, it has an over firm ride, doesn't handle that well and judders everytime the stop/start cuts in. But somehow it gets 5 stars?

Surely this is a 4 star car? Especially considering some of the very harsh 3 star reviews recently on otherwise capable and decent motors...

There's lot of cars this size now under 100 g/km, is this really that much better than the alternatives? Can it not be improved at all?

And another thing, the BMW 116D will have a DIESEL PARTICULATE FILTER - which is fine if you drive mainly at higher speeds on motorways - but causes major reliability problems if you mainly drive in urban areas at lower speeds.

It is an invention of the Devil being fitted to the LATEST EURO 5 GENERATION of Diesel engines that can cost 1000s of pounds in repair bills.

So, if you are not a high speed, high annual mileage driver, save yourself a lot of misery and buy a petrol engined car instead.

Ugly pointless car thats sells on its badge alone, is nowhere near as good as it should be to earn 5 stars, and unless you are travelling more than 10,000 miles a year, you are better off with petrol.

I think for the price of £18,000 plus I think there are better alternatives in this category. I think rivals and alternatives like the Audi A1 5-door Sportback and Alfa Romeo Mito Cloverleaf are two examples I can think of, which are more stylish, better designed and more desirable. I agree with Shaun34, it seems AE have given 5 stars which I think in reality, this car doesn't merit, in truth it's only a 3.5-4 star car at best. I wonder, when BMW, if rumours are to be believed, will switch to fwd to save costs, will AE still be awarding 5 stars?

Dude comparing the mito and a1 (...vw polo platform) to the 1 series is ...impossible. Those cars don't have the chassis, even the room inside, the trunk, the handling, the comfort, the interior quality (audi tries but still!) on the BMW...

First time I have to agree, this a great, great car!

Hard to take this seriously to be honest!! The bias has been quite noticeable for some time, as already pointed out above, and although this might well be 'efficient'.....it's damned ugly, slow, cramped and overpriced, and just a wannabe's car for those that 'need' the badge!!

Even if it came with a bag I could wear on my head so nobody recognised me, I sill wouldn't want to be seen in it!!

Saw one of these a few hrs ago in the flesh.. Nice work BMW! Way
better than the first. Looked lower, meaner but with a touch of the
unitarian look about it. Peeps get so worked up on this forum with
regards to car design for no reason? The pics don't do any justic.
Eitherway, call it badge snobbery or whatever but as much as I like
VW Golf, I like the joy of driving- I presume that's why most of us
are on here? And with that being the case, the BMW would win for
me everytime. I just love the way they instil a bit of M vibe in all of
their products. Not like Audi, VW or most of the others. With say
Audi, you'd need the R8 before you get anywhere near driving
nirvana. At least at BM they take care of this from 116 all the way
to the top. Only my opinion ; !)

Why do people buy these things - rear wheel drive is extremely dated, useless in snow or ice, the looks are hideous and the performance is disgustingly pedestrian for a £20k car. Spend the extra £2k and buy an Octavia vRS with more space, better handling, better looks, much better performance and be assured of quality, unlike the BMW, which is slipping down the Driver Power survey.

lol yawn at this VAG fanboy comment

it's because they are bias!

Key specs

  • Price: £22,560
  • Engine: 1.5-litre 3-cyl diesel
  • Power/torque: 114bhp/270Nm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph/top speed: 10.4s/124mph
  • Economy/CO2: 83.1mpg/89g/km
  • On sale: Now
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