ANY TIME BMW ANNOUNCES A NEW MODEL RANGE WITH MORE POWER AND EXTRA M PERFORMANCE MODELS…WELL WE’RE OFF TO A FLYING START. AND THIS IS PRECISELY THE STORY ON THE UPDATED 1 SERIES HATCHBACK AND 2 SERIES COUPE AND CONVERTIBLE.
The freshened BMW small cars arrive locally in the shadow of an international announcement of the all-new BMW 1 Series sedan, which has some chance for Australian sales.
“The (1 Series Sedan) car has been announced for China but if that car came along one day we’d be interested because there is growth in that premium small sedan segment,” revealed BMW Australia marketing boss Shaun Ticehurst.
In the meantime, strong sales for the 1 Series, 2 Series and all the X models are the key drivers behind BMW Australia’s 17 per-cent sales growth for the first nine months of 2016.
Vehicle Style: Small Premium Hatchback, Sports Coupe, Sports Convertible
Price: 118i $36,900; 118d $40,300; 120i $41,900; 125i $48,900; M140i $64,900; 220i Coupe $61,300; 220i Convertible $58,300; 230i Coupe $61,900; 230i Convertible $71,900; M240i Coupe $74,900; M240i Convertible $83,900 (all plus on-road charges).
Engine/trans: 110kW/320Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel; 100kw/220Nm 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol; 135kW/270Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol; 165kW/310Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol; 185kW/350Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol; 250kW/500Nm 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo petrol | eight-speed automatic (six-speed manual available to order for M Performance models)
Fuel Economy Claimed: 118d 3.8l/100kms; 118i 4.8l/100kms; 120i 5.8l/100kms; 125i 5.9l/100kms; M140i 7.1l/100kms; 220i Coupe 5.8l/100kms; 230i Coupe 5.9l/100kms; M240i Coupe 5.9l/100kms; M240i Coupe 7.1l/100kms; 220i Convertible 6.1l/100kms; 230i Convertible 6.2l/100kms; M240i Convertible 7.4l/100kms | Tested: M240i Coupe (6-sp manual) 12.8l/100kms; 230i Convertible 9.0l/100kms; 120i 7.7l/100kms
Yes, this is actually a model update which required no input from either the BMW design department nor the styling department but pay close attention here because this update for the 1 Series and 2 Series lineups is wrapped in substantial details so a broad, sweeping overview won’t cut it.
Leading-out the updated 1 Series hatchback lineup is the new range-topping M140i which scores a new turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine – code-numbered B58 - with 250kW/500Nm. There’s also extra internal goodies and an upgraded infotainment system.
The mid-grade 120i and 125i both pick up new turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines – code-numbered B48 – with 135kW/270Nm (120i) and 165kW/310Nm (125i).
No changes for the entry-level BMW 118i and 118d models.
The BMW 2 Series Coupe and Convertible ranges both score a new range-topping M Performance model called the M240i which enjoys the same new turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine and infotainment system improvements as the M140i hatchback.
Mid-grade BMW 2 Series Coupe and Convertible 220i also gets the 135kW/270Nm B48 turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine (identical to the 120i).
And the now superseded 228i is replaced by the 230i which is powered by a 185kW/350Nm version of the B48 turbocharged 2.0-litre powerplant.
The BMW 220d has been deleted.
Across both ranges drive continues to be to the rear wheels via BMW’s eight-speed sport automatic transmission (buyers of M Performance models can optionally select a six-speed manual with automatic throttle-blipping downchanges).
- Standard Features: cruise control, satellite navigation, climate-control air-conditioning, rear-view camera, automatic wipers and headlights, smart phone connectivity
- Infotainment: 8.8-inch colour display screen, satellite navigation, audio with Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, M Performance models add 12-speaker harmon/kardon audio with ‘Professional’ navigation and iD5 iDrive system
The big news inside is BMW’s state-of-the-art app-based iD5 software which we know from the all-new 7 series sedan – it comes along with a 12-speaker harmon/kardon audio system in M Performance models (M140i, M240i). The display screen features an app-style display for more intuitive use.
It’s terrific with, for example, 3D illustrations and a better voice command operation.
Current BMW owners will immediately pick the updated iDrive controller with more intuitive shortcut buttons for MAP, NAV, COM (phone) and MEDIA.
Otherwise, as we know, the BMW 1 Series and 2 Series models have those immeasurable BMW qualities which underscore your purchase decision – the lovely steering wheels (even the non leather-wrapped one in the 120i and 118i) with rake/reach adjustment and the spot-on seat adjustment which provides an ideal driving environment.
Then there is the material quality, the fit and finish…all shall we say from ‘The German School’.
Lanky folk probably won’t be in love with the rear seat legroom if faced with a long trip but even teenage children would be quite comfortable.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine/transmission: 110kW/320Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel; 100kw/220Nm 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol; 135kW/270Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol; 165kW/310Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol; 185kW/350Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol; 250kW/500Nm 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo petrol | eight-speed automatic (six-speed manual available to order for M Performance models)
- Suspension: Double-joint spring strut (front), five-link multi-link (rear)
- Steering: Electric power steering
- Brakes: Four-wheel discs
While the track focused BMW M2 retains the M-tuned N55 six-cylinder engine with its front-mounted intercooler, the M Performance models (M140i, M240i Coupe and M240i Convertible) now add the new B58 engine with a water-to-air intercooler mounted in the inlet manifold, a smaller turbocharger but mounted closer to the cylinder head for a shorter intake length, stronger block and enhanced cylinder linings all contributing to its higher output - 250kW/500Nm.
And the M Performance models also pick-up 18-inch M alloy wheels, Adaptive M suspension, M Sport brakes and variable sport steering as well as the driver-select Driving Experience Control.
So our day on the flooded roads of northern Victoria started strongly behind the wheel of a BMW M240i.
BMW says the M240i is an “adaptable and comfortable performance coupe” whereas the M2 is a “track-focused pure M car”. And yes, the M2 does add to the artillery comprehensively thanks to its unique M-tuned N55 engine, 7-speed M-DCT transmission and Active M differential.
We’re saying the M240i might just be a more livable every day car thanks to its friendlier suspension calibration – still nicely firm in ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport+’ modes.
The downside is, after an admittedly hard run, our average fuel consumption was 12.8-l/100kms.
Next-up was a BMW 120i, at $41,900 likely to be the volume-seller of the 1 Series range. Truth-be-told it is hard to detect an extra 5kW/20Nm of output in a 120kms road section but there’s no denying the marriage of that new turbo 2.0-litre to the slick BMW 1 Series chassis is a sweet one…and balance is the reward with good steering response and a nice ride. Average fuel consumption ran to 7.7l/100kms.
And finally a 230i Convertible (naturally coinciding with the day’s worst rain – leave that roof up thanks). We were impressed by the interior hush of the soft-top 2 Series despite the coarse chip road and wet conditions and, like the rest of the 2 Series and 1 Series range, the rear-drive layout meant for pleasurable driving even in the low grip circumstances.
ANCAP Rating: Not tested by ANCAP
Safety Features: Six airbags, electronic stability control, traction control, ABS anti-lock brakes
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres
Servicing: Nominally 12 months (varies according to the on-board Condition based Servicing System). BMW Service Inclusive capped price servicing is available.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
For the BMW 1 Series competition looms in the form of both the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and Audi A3. The 1 Series scores across the mainstream models thanks to sharp pricing ($37,200 for the entry-level ‘Benz A 180) and its rear-wheel-drive handling dynamics. While the M 140i holds a considerable price advantage over the $77,617 A 45 AMG it’s really an unfair comparison because the awesome AMG beast is all-wheel-drive and fully loaded.
The all-new Audi A3 Sportback rides on the Volkswagen Group’s latest light-weight MQB platform and starts at just $35,900 for the 1.4 TFSI Attraction. The rear-drive BMW 1 Series is definitely sportier to drive than the front-drive A3 models but at the upper echelons, the Quattro-equipped S3 ($61,100) is a belter and a definite rival to the BMW M140i. As always with Audi, high marks go to the gorgeous interiors.
Flowing on, the 2 series Convertible squares-off against the Audi A3 Cabriolet which actually takes its styling lead from the A3 sedan. There's a price advantage for the entry grade with Audi slapping a $48,600 sticker on the 1.4TFSI Attraction variant. At the upper end, Audi’s all-paw S3 cabriolet at $69,826 is a great buy and brilliant to drive but the turbo 2.0-litre engine is comprehensively outmuscled by BMW’s 250kW/500Nm 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder.
For the BMW 2 Series Coupe we’re thinking the Audi TT might be the closest rival. The $74,900 M240i Coupe has quite an edge over the S-Line Audis.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
For driving enthusiasts burdened by the plethora of front-drive vehicles, BMW’s rear-drive 1 Series hatchback and its ‘glammed-up’ non-identical twins the 2 Series Coupe and Convertible all continue to provide unbridled joy.
Some suggest you get in-quick because when model replacement time rolls around BMW might be forced – and we stress ‘might’ - to switch to the front-drive platform initiated by the current 2 Series Active Tourer…you know, simplified production processes, lower costs, all that ‘bah-humbug’ bean-counter stuff we hate. BMW is saying nothing officially at this stage but rumours persist.
In the meantime, BMW’s 1 Series and 2 Series 2017 model-year updates are, as you expect from the German kraftpaket (powerhouse in German)…right on the money.
Extra power, new infotainment tech and more M models…not seeing a downside there.
Strange there was not one styling change included anywhere.