Verdict: The BMW 118i M Sport is the cheapest and most entertaining car you can own.
If you want a car that is not boring one bit, the thing you are looking for should be wearing a BMW badge. Bayernishe Moteren Werke is that name which offers drivers’ an unadulterated driving experience with its products having a strong link to motorsports; suffice to say that BMW is the next best performance brand besides the colossus that is Porsche. But did you know, the white and blue chequered represents the colours of Bavaria, Germany than representing its aviation origins according to popular belief.
If you have RM188,800 lying around, then the BMW118i featured would be the one to go for. For the additional RM12,000 above the base 118i Sport, the 118i M Sport variant gets sportier M Sport Package parts like the sportier front bumper with LED foglights, rear diffuser and side skirts standard. The M Sport kitted 1 Series also comes with 18-inch Light Alloy Double-Spoke wheels.
It’s not only the outside, the inside gets the M Sport multi-function leather steering wheel with both driver and front passenger get to sit in the Sport seats. To set it apart from the Sport, there are M emblems located on the alloy doorsill finisher and a small emblem located at the bottom of the steering wheel.
The dashboard is a solid effort, feels well made, if a little dull. There are plenty of soft-touch areas to be felt inside like on the dashboard, door inserts and the centre armrest. The M Sport steering wheel feels good to hold and doesn’t feel overly chunky and plush to the touch. When it comes to the driver’s sitting position, I am happy to report that there aren’t many blind spots to obstruct your view out at both ends of the windscreen with good visibility ahead.
The two front seats are electrically adjustable including position, height, backrest angle and seat angle can be individually adjusted based on your comfort preference with two different driver’s seat position, including side mirror angles can be saved with the memory function. They too come with adjustable under-thigh support for people with long legs – definitely a huge plus. Making driving plenty more comfortable is that the steering wheel has a broad range of adjustment rake and reach wise to further suit the driver’s comfort.
Two adults can fit in the back of the 118i, however legroom is limited for people who are above 170cm in height. Due to the tall transmission drive shaft tunnel running at the centre of the vehicle’s floor, space for a centre passenger is extremely limited.
Hot keys are becoming a rarity in some premium brands, but in BMW’s that’s quite unlikely. The brand is sticking to the good ol’ buttons for the radio and climate control and are located within reach of the driver and passenger with good tactile feel. The multifunction control buttons on the steering wheel are linked to the car’s audio, telephony, multi-function display and cruise control are seamlessly integrated making them appearing as part of the steering wheel.
The 118i gets BMW’s iDrive infotainment system, which is one of the best among rivals. Its clear menus and sensible layout make it very easy and intuitive to use in conjunction with the centre knob, which is easier to use than a touchscreen. And, the 6.5-inch colour infotainment screen provides clear and crisp visuals. Here, you’ll also get automatic headlights, wipers and keyless start.
The 118i’s front door bins are large and so is the glove box, but the rear door pockets are small, and the front-centre armrest will hold smaller items like your phone and wallet, but not a bottle of water.
Boot space is on par with its main rivals. A total of 360-litres means that it fares better than the 345-litre load bay in the A-Class with wider opening makes it easier to load than the merc. Folding the 60:40 rear seats down and that number expands to 1,200 litres.
Hiding under the hood is BMW’s TwinPower 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 136hp at 4,400rpm and 220Nm of torque from 1,250 to 4,300 rpm. The 8-speed Steptronic transmission enables full utilisation of the engine performance at all driving conditions be it driving frugally or spiritedly.
Fuel economy is very impressive as tested; 4.1l/1000km extra urban, 7.4 l/100km urban and 6.1 l/100km combined including being stuck in traffic with short hard sprints in the latter two figures. Power delivery is progressive partly due to the 8-Speed gearbox, and with a kerb weight of just over 1,300 kilos does help the 118i sprint from 0-100 in a decent 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 210km/h as tested.
When it comes to driving dynamics, the 118i M Sport takes the cake, and being the only car in its class to come with rear-wheel drive, it’s no surprise that that it is able to offer impressive dynamics in the corners. The steering feels light, direct and doesn’t feel unhinged. You can expect a lively rear axle when you apply the power in mid corner with some understeer when you go over the limit of the two front tyres.
There’s not much lean in too much and stays relatively flat throughout corners. Ride is on the firm side but still bearable on Malaysian roads, especially that it comes fitted with run-flat tyres as standard.
In summary, the BMW 118i is a very good all-round car with more usable interior and boot space than before, it’s really enjoyable to drive, comfier and the overall build quality is what you can expect from a BMW. It may not be the all-out best hatchback on the market, but it’s a very capable all-can-do car and certainly a worth having a look at if you reckon the badge on the bonnet and the rear driven wheels justify the price. If you do opt for one, the BMW 118i comes with 5 Years Warranty with free scheduled service.
+ Frugal fuel consumption
+ Fun to drive
+ Rear wheel drive
+ Easy-to-use iDrive
+ Spacious boot
Price Msia: RM188,800
Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged in-line four-cylinder
Top Speed: 210km/h (Tested)
Fuel consumption: 4.1 litres/100km (Tested)