Don’t be deceived by the anonymous name, the 125i is a genuine hot-hatch with more power than the VW Golf GTI. It uses BMW’s new 2.0-litre TwinPower Turbo petrol engine (also found in the 328i) tuned to 215bhp and bridges the performance gap between the scintillating M135i and the rest of the 1 series range.
From the outside, the five-door M Sport test car we drove, looks great. The body coloured side sills and bumpers, 18-inch alloys and gloss black trim around the windows and inside the kidney grille give it low and menacing stance, while twin chrome exhaust pipes poke out at the back.
The interior feels just as special with leather sports seats, aluminium trim and M Sport logos on the doorsills, steering wheel and on top of the stubby gear lever. Flashes of Estoril Blue trim matches the exterior paint.
Fire up the engine, find a quiet road and two things immediately are obvious. There’s nothing particularly exciting about the way this engine sounds (a Golf GTI or Focus ST makes a much naughtier noise), but what it lacks in aural excitement it makes up for in straight line pace. It rips through the gears with a smooth and even power delivery, and good throttle response for a turbocharged engine.
In the corners the steering could do with a touch more feel and weight, but there’s nothing wrong with the way the nose tucks in stays glue to your preferred line. Turn the traction control on a low-grip surface, the 125i can slide around and do things a front or four-wheel drive hatch can only dream of.
Away from fast sweeping bends, the 125i can also play the role of family car with ease. Five doors and a big boot can swallow a family of four and some bags, while if you add the adaptive suspension (£515 extra) and dial is to comfort it’s as quiet and comfortable around town and on motorways as you’d expect from a BMW.