Here’s to the baby Beemers

The Se­ries 1 is just made for those as­pir­ing to own a BMW, writes Gra­ham Smith

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Cars -

IT WAS only a mat­ter of time be­fore BMW in­tro­duced a new small car be­low its long-serv­ing and su­per-suc­cess­ful 3 Se­ries.

The 3 Se­ries was no longer the same rel­a­tively cheap and cheer­ful en­try model that it was way back when it first hit the road, and as BMWs top-sell­ing model it made a huge con­tri­bu­tion to the bot­tom line.

When, over time, the 3 Se­ries grew larger and bet­ter equipped and con­se­quently less af­ford­able for those want­ing to buy into the brand, it left a gap­ing hole at the lower end of BMW’s model range, one that had to be filled by a smaller car like the 1 Se­ries that ar­rived here in 2004.

Model watch

WHEN it be­came known that BMW was go­ing to in­tro­duce a new small car it was feared it would be a makeover of the Mini, but the Ger­man car­maker stuck true to its roots and the new 1 Se­ries was rear-wheel drive. It also stuck to its own out­there styling path with sharply carved lines and chunky curves rather than fol­low­ing the Mini’s more love­able shape.

The re­sult was that the 1 Se­ries po­larised opin­ion. Some thought it looked great, oth­ers aw­ful.

Opin­ion at the time of its launch tended to­wards the lat­ter, but that’s the same with most cars the Bavar­ian car­maker has launched in the past few years.

BMW’s ap­proach with the 1 Se­ries was sim­i­lar to the one it had to the 3 Se­ries be­fore it.

With rel­a­tively af­ford­able pric­ing, the new small car pro­vided a new en­try point for those as­pir­ing to own a Beemer, but it wasn’t cheap and cheer­ful. It was well built, came packed with fea­tures and buy­ers had plenty of op­tions to choose from.

Later there would be six-cylin­der en­gines, a diesel, coupes and con­vert­ibles, but at the launch the range opened with the 118i and the 120i four-cylin­der five-door hatches.

The en­gine in both was a dou­ble over­head camshaft 2.0-litre unit. In the case of the 118i it put out 95kW at 5500 revs and 200Nm at 3600 revs, but in the 120i it put out 110kW at 6200 revs and 175 Nm at 3750 revs.

Any­one look­ing for a spir­ited drive would have found the 118i want­ing, but would have been de­lighted with the 120i, which was more fun to drive.

The trans­mis­sion choices were a six-speed auto and five-speed man­ual in the 118i, and six-speed auto and sixspeed man­ual in the 120i.

Fully in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion front and rear helped make the car a sporty drive, and with anti-lock brak­ing, trac­tion and sta­bil­ity con­trol it was also a safe one.

The ride was firm, thanks to the sus­pen­sion set­tings and the run-flat tyres it used.

In­side, the 1 Se­ries wasn’t par­tic­u­larly roomy, but it did have enough room for a cou­ple of adults in the front and space for kids in the rear.

Both mod­els had a lot of fea­tures, in­clud­ing air­con­di­tion­ing, power win­dows and mir­rors, re­mote cen­tral

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.