BMW 125d M Sport

29 Jun, 2012 6:00pm Tim Watson

Hot diesel BMW 1 Series serves up plenty of thrills, but is it worth the extra over the 120d?


The BMW 125d M Sport is at the top of the 1 Series range, and feels like it. With a subtly sporty bodykit, incredible performance, great handling and amazing fuel economy, this is a worthy alternative to petrol-engined hot hatches. It’s expensive, though. Add a few options, and you’ll be paying well over £30,000. We reckon most buyers would be just as happy with the 120d M Sport, which is almost as fast and costs £2,005 less.
This is the most expensive BMW 1 Series you can buy, with prices starting from £27,820. Is it a worthy flagship? Well, the 125d M Sport certainly looks the part, and it packs hot hatch acceleration with the potential to return almost 60mpg. 

M Sport trim gives you 18-inch alloys, a lower and more aggressive front bumper and blue brake calipers. Other subtly sporty additions include lower side skirts and wider, gloss black kidney grilles, as well as a diffuser complete with chromed twin exhaust pipes.

Inside, there are figure-hugging sports seats clad in suede, and a chunky steering wheel and gearknob. The performance is all you’d expect of the M Sport badge. Like the 120d, the 125d uses a 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine, with an output of 215bhp – up 34bhp on the 120d. As a result, 0-62mph takes 6.5 seconds (against 7.3 seconds for the 120d) when hooked up to the slick eight-speed automatic gearbox in our test model. 

Fuel economy is impressive, too. BMW claims 58.9mpg, against 62.8mpg for the 120d. The only downside is that the 125d can’t quite match the 120d on emissions – it puts out 7g/km more CO2, at 126g/km, which means road tax costs an extra £70 a year. 

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. 

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. By comparison, the 120d M Sport costs £2,005 less and feels just as much of a flagship.

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Keep the extra 10k and buy an entry level A Class which is a much better looking car, or spend the 28k on the all can do Evoque instead of this old design (with stiff steering).

Totally agree on the Evoque suggestion but for the A class; just as ugly at the front and not far off from the entry level 1 series on the price. I would much better prefer a Scirocco or GTC.

but neither of those two are in RWD

What about the Series 1 M Coupe???

Does this car use the twin turbo of the 123d???

215 bhp is similar to the 217 bhp in a classic Subaru Impreza Turbo (non STi) of the 1990s. The 450Nm equates to 300 ft-lb from memory that is 50% greater than an old Impreza. I would be curious if it is a twin turbo BMW engine. I always argued that the beautifully smooth boxer, Subaru Diesel of 150 bhp is for normal cars, it should be 180 bhp single turbo for the Impreza and 225 bhp twin turbo for STi equivalent. Thenm it could compete with this BMW.

That BMW M series engine with plenty of top end power plus huge torque would provide really enjoyable performance without spending a fortune at the pumps. However, is it a Diesel or is it an engine invented & patented by Herbert Ackroyd Stewart???

the 120 has a single turbo, the 125 twin... possibly the same as the previous 123 which had turbos of differing sizes

no that n54 engine used two turbos of exact same size, one assigned to three cylinders each. in this application all 4 cylinders use one smaller turbo at lower revs then rely on a larger as the revs increase.

Key specs

  • Price: £29,310
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 215bhp
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph/ top speed: 6.5 secs/149mph
  • Econ/CO2: 58.9mpg/126g/km
  • Equipment: Bluetooth, climate control, 18-inch alloys, M Sport steering wheel and bodykit
  • On sale: Now