BMW 120d xDrive

14 Dec, 2012 12:15pm Paul Healy

We travelled to Austria to drive the first four-wheel-drive BMW 1 Series, ahead of its arrival in 2013


It is unlikely to top the sales charts but the 120d xDrive is another string in the bow for BMW. Buyers looking for a premium hatch with all-wheel drive sure-footedness are no longer forced into the arms of Audi.

BMW currently offers 68 models equipped with its xDrive all-wheel drive system, but four-wheel drive has never been available in its entry-level 1 Series; until now.

Unveiled alongside the Concept Active Tourer at the Paris Motor Show, the xDrive 120d and M135i will soon go on sale in Europe to appeal to drivers who want all-weather security allied with BMW's trademark dynamics.

Despite being an xDrive model the 120d retains the rear-drive bias that BMW is known for, with 60 per cent of the power sent rearwards under normal driving conditions, and even more when you are driving 'enthusiastically'. Should the Dynamic Stability Control detect slippage, however, it will shuffle power around to the wheels that need it most, ensuring that, even in the extreme conditions we tested it under, the xDrive 1 Series never puts a foot wrong.

Other than the four-wheel drive system the 120d xDrive is as you would expect a BMW 120d to be, so it has a six-speed manual transmission, the 'Driving Experience Control' switch that allows the driver to toggle between ECO PRO and Sport+ (and everything in between), space for five occupants (if you must) and an efficient diesel engine that can return 60mpg on the combined cycle and, despite the addition of xDrive, emissions of just 123g/km.

And it's not as if the 120d is an eco-model either. The 2.0-litre TwinPower diesel engine packs 181bhp and 380Nm of torque, enabling it to complete the 0-62mph dash in 7.2 seconds - a tenth of a second quicker than the two-wheel drive model.

Around the tight, technical Innsbruck roads the 1 Series again showed us why it has become such a popular premium hatch; it is agile and responds well to steering input on quick B-roads, especially when you engage Sport or Sport+ modes, yet it can also soak up the motorway miles.

The 120d xDrive has yet to be officially confirmed for the UK market but sources suggest it will and that it will carry a £1,500 premium over the equivalent rear-drive 1 Series.

Disqus - noscript

this wont be released in the UK. the right hand drive market is not big enough to make it worth their while, and they dont want to steal sales from their X models.

this will not be released in the UK! the right-hand drive market is not big enough for such a niche model, and they dont want to steal sales from their X model range.

God that picture makes an ugly car uglier

why not just buy a x1 its the same thing

I had 2 118d models but couldn't put up with the total lack of grip in Winter. I've therefore switched to a quattro A3 TDI. If BMW brings the 120d xDrive to UK I'd think very seriously about swapping back, as for the rest of the time the 118d was economical, pleasant to drive and my wife liked it.

Did you experience this with proper winter tyres fitted?

Can't get on with that front headlight look of the new 1 series.

If you drive that, then people will pity you (as you just had to have a "badge" no matter what the vehicle)... and then probably laugh as they glide past you in their Golf or A3. Absolutely horrible, and totally over priced.

Key specs

  • Price: £24,480 (estimated)
  • Engine: 2.0-litre four-cyl diesel
  • Power: 181bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 7.2 seconds
  • Top speed: 140mph
  • Economy/CO2: 60mpg/123g/km
  • On sale: Mid-2013 (estimated)
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