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.
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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.