He tried. He re­ally tried – but CHRIS RI­LEY just couldn’t warm to the BMW 120d.

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - Front Page -

THE 120d is tar­get­ted at younger driv­ers with a con­science – a sports flavoured hatch with su­per econ­omy. It’s equipped with the lat­est in BMW’s fuel sav­ing tech­nol­ogy and our test ve­hi­cle had a big advert for the stuff plas­tered down the side just in case we for­got.

At the heart of the mat­ter is a 2.0-litre turbo diesel en­gine that pro­duces 130kW of power and 350Nm of torque.

Fuel con­sump­tion is rated at just 4.8 litres per 100km and the car emits only 128g/km of CO2.

We drove an ear­lier ver­sion of the 120d a cou­ple of years back, equipped with a less pow­er­ful 2.0-litre diesel and six-speed auto.

This one how­ever comes with a six-speed man­ual and that en­ables the use of auto start-stop tech­nol­ogy.

As its name sug­gests, it shuts the en­gine down when the ve­hi­cle comes to a halt, say when you pull up at traf­fic lights – but only if you first take the car out of gear and then take your foot off the clutch.

Once you get the hang of the sys­tem, it’s rea­son­ably easy to op­er­ate but it’s easy to for­get to do the right thing in the heat of the mo­ment.

We’ve driven a few ve­hi­cles now with sim­i­lar sys­tems fit­ted, but we have to say the Beemer is the least user-friendly of the bunch, not be­cause it works any dif­fer­ently – but be­cause of the heavy clutch and gear shifter action.

Auto start-stop doesn’t get on well with siz­zling hot weather ei­ther, be­cause when the air con is run­ning flat out, the load is too much and it over­rides the sys­tem.

We clocked up a cou­ple of hun­dred kilo­me­tres be­hind the wheel of the 120d, fin­ish­ing with an av­er­age fuel con­sump­tion of 6.5 litres/100km – con­sid­er­ably more than the 4.8 quoted.

We also were sur­prised to note it’s not as good as the ear­lier model we drove, out of which we got 6.0 litres/100km.

The 2.0-litre en­gine fea­tures third-gen­er­a­tion com­mon rail in­jec­tion and like most diesel power plants de­liv­ers strong mid-range ac­cel­er­a­tion, with 0 to 100 km/h tak­ing a re­spectable 7.6 sec­onds. That’s pretty quick for a diesel. But over­all we found the car en­gine heavy and truck-like to drive.

We loved the white up­hol­stery though with pi­ano black trim.

Al­though the “Lemon” leather is a $1700 op­tion, it in­cludes Blue­tooth and a USB au­dio in­ter­face.

It made a wel­come change from the usual doom and gloom black Euro in­te­rior.

The sports seats with their ex­tended side bol­sters how­ever made get­ting in and out more dif­fi­cult.

Stan­dard equip­ment in­cludes Dy­namic Sta­bil­ity Con­trol, rear Park Dis­tance Con­trol, 17in light al­loy wheels with run flat safety tyres, sports leather steer­ing wheel with mul­ti­func­tion but­tons, cruise con­trol, au­to­matic cli­mate con­trol and sport seats.

Not sur­pris­ingly there are plenty of op­tions avail­able in­clud­ing the M Sport Pack­age, Pro­fes­sional Nav­i­ga­tion, Com­fort Ac­cess and some Adap­tive Bi-Xenon head­lights.

The BMW 120d Sports Hatch man­ual is priced from $46,790.

Cool cus­tomer: The BMW 120d is prov­ing dif­fi­cult to warm to.

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