OPEN

Pack a big en­gine in a small pack­age and you have all the in­gre­di­ents of a sports ma­chine, re­ports NICK DAL­TON.

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - Front Page -

THE BMW 125i is part of the Ger­man maker’s en­try level range which in­cludes five-door hatches, coupes and con­vert­ibles.

The 125i is the mid-spec­i­fi­ca­tion 1-se­ries con­vert­ible. De­spite what its name sug­gests, it is pow­ered by a 160kW/270Nm ver­sion of BMW’s leg­endary 3.0-litre in­line six-cylin­der en­gine.

This is a great en­gine and well suited to the 1 Se­ries con­vert­ible, even bet­ter in the more rigid coupe.

Above that in the line-up is the award-winning twin-turbo 135i and be­low is the four cylin­der 120i.

PRIC­ING AND EQUIP­MENT

The test car was a 125iM con­vert­ible auto with a drive away price of $83,075. The base model starts from $64,700 but the test car had sev­eral op­tions in­clud­ing an M Sport Pack­age, metal­lic paint, 18in M Sport al­loy wheels, park­ing sen­sors front and rear and elec­tric seats.

Stan­dard 125i equip­ment in­cludes cli­mate con­trol air­con­di­tion­ing, sun-re­flec­tive leather trim, cruise con­trol, fog lights, re­mote cen­tral lock­ing, Datadot se­cu­rity, an il­lu­mi­na­tion pack in­clud­ing footwell, pud­dle and doorhan­dle lights, a trip com­puter, Blue­tooth prepa­ra­tion and six-CD au­dio with aux in­put and USB in­ter­face. The 125i’s tyres are run-flats, so there is no spare tyre.

The 125i’s pric­ing places it a step above the met­al­roofed coupe-cabrios such as the VW Eos and Holden As­tra, as well as Audi’s new A3-based soft-top.

IN THE EN­GINE ROOM

This is one of the high­lights of the 125i, a de­tuned 3.0-litre en­gine pro­duces 160kW and 270Nm. The torque fig­ure is not star­tling so it’s no fire­brand through the low and mid range. It does love a rev, though, giv­ing its best be­yond 4000rpm.

The well-tuned six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion does a good job of keep­ing things go­ing, de­liv­er­ing eco­nom­i­cal motoring in "D" and more sporty, al­beit no­tice­able, changes in "DS".

For re­ally sharp re­sponse you will want to shift man­u­ally via the lever or steer­ing wheel but­tons and pad­dles. The best of the en­gine is then on show, with a char­ac­ter­ful de­sire to rev nearly to 7000rpm, some­thing it does smoothly with a nice sound­track.

BMW says fuel u use should av­er­age 9 9.1L/100km, 1L/100k a fi fig­ure that is cred­i­ble from my ex­pe­ri­ence. Car­bon diox­ide emis­sions are rated at 217g/km.

ON THE ROAD

THE IN­SIDE STORY

The 125i is the only rear-wheel drive cabri­o­let in its class and drives well. The steer­ing is sharp, the ride firm yet con­trolled and the han­dling good.

But the con­vert­ible does feel more re­mote to drive than the fixed-roof coupe. There are hints of scut­tle shake and win­dow wob­ble with the roof up or down.

The tal­ent of the chas­sis com­bines with the en­thu­si­as­tic driv­e­train to make this a re­ally fun drive for all, not just hard­ened sports car fans.

Roof up, there is a de­cent amount of noise in­su­la­tion, while down it’s only the top of the head that gets a ruf­fling when the side win­dows are up and the (stan­dard) wind blocker is in place. Mind you, fit­ting the blocker re­duces the 125i to a two-seater.

I had a great run up the Gil­lies range and was able to keep the 125i on song, keep­ing it in third gear as it zipped through the myr­iad of bends on this chal­leng­ing piece of tar­mac.

The car loved be­ing revved and it sounded glo­ri­ous as the Ger­man growl bounced off the rocky hill­sides.

BMW re­ally know how to pro­duce sporty drives and to­gether with its rear drive chas­sis and the won­der­ful 3.0-litre straight six, the 125i is a de­light to mo­tor in.

It also cruises qui­etly and com­fort­ably on the stretches be­tween Ather­ton, Ma­reeba and Ku­randa.

The 125i looks good out­side and in. The in­te­rior is more mod­ern and bet­ter pre­sented than the more ex­pen­sive 3 and 5-Se­ries. The way the cen­tre stack con­trols are an­gled in to­wards the driver is a shift back to the good old days for BMW.

The driver is catered for by reach and rake ad­just­ment of the sports steer­ing wheel and a deep, body-hug­ging, pow­ered and heated seat.

Stor­age is rea­son­able, with door bins, a small glove­box, a space for iPods and phones un­der the cen­tre arm­rest and map pock­ets on the back of the front seats.

With the roof in place, for­ward vis­i­bil­ity is OK. Side vis­i­bil­ity is ex­cel­lent be­cause there is no B-pil­lar. But the back­wards view is poor be­cause of the head­rests and the small size of the rear win­dow.

Rear seat space for two isn’t all that spa­cious ei­ther, but no one would buy this car with the in­ten­tion of it be­ing fam­ily trans­port.

Boot space is an un­re­mark­able 305 litres with the roof raised and a still us­able 260 litres with it low­ered.

The roof opens and closes away au­to­mat­i­cally in 22 sec­onds at up to 40km/h.

SAFETY

Stan­dard safety equip­ment in­cludes front and front-side (tho­rax and head) airbags, trac­tion and sta­bil­ity con­trol, ABS, park­ing sen­sors and tyre­pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing. All four pas­sen­gers get lap-sash seat­belts and ad­justable head­rests.

Pop-up hoops in­te­grated be­hind the rear seats pro­vide roll-over pro­tec­tion.

VER­DICT

This car is a sure-fire sales win­ner. At­trac­tive, fun to drive and pretty good value by the stan­dards of the Ger­man lux­ury brands, al­though be wary of adding op­tions which soon stack the price up.

The next cheapest Beamer open top is the Z4 Road­ster from $86,200.

It has the added pulling power of that BMW roundel on the bon­net.

It’s easy to see po­ten­tial con­vert­ible and coupecabrio buy­ers stretch­ing them­selves to buy a 125i. They shouldn’t be dis­ap­pointed.

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