I recently had the de-tuned 1.6 litre diesel engined 1 Series Sport on a half-day loan. Badged the 114d, it can be confusing to work out what capacity engine the car has, as BMW’s badging department have a habit of fibbing.
The new 1 Series looks gigantic from this angle doesn’t it? More like an X1 I would have said. But, being finished in black it looks great. The three-door shell is much better proportioned and the lines suit the shape of the car better, helping it to look good in most of the colour range but today we’re stuck with the five-door. There are some little bells and whistles which make the Sport stand out from the rest of the trim lines though.
The rear ‘privacy glass’ and the 17″ Star-spoke alloy wheels combined with the Black Sapphire paintwork give the car presence. The graphite filling of the wheels provides a subtle sporting edge to the appearance of the car which therefore entitles the car to wear the badge ‘Sport’. The crease running from the tail-lights to the front wheel arch, pointing to the head-lights also gives the bodywork a slight edge over the slightly more subdued but obvious rivals; the Audi A3 and the Volkswagen Golf MK 7.
There isn’t much performance available from this 1.6 litre diesel engine. It produces just 95 bhp which is delivered at 4000 rpm with peak torque, 235 lbs ft between 1500 and 3000 rpm. The car really does feel pretty underpowered, especially whilst merging at motorway speeds. Pulling away from roundabouts, junctions and nipping into gaps in the traffic however is dealt with effortlessly. Although 95 bhp isn’t particularly a lot to ask of the front wheels, the 1 Series (soon to be released as front wheel drive) remains true to BMW’s ethos The Ultimate Driving Machine by using a rear-wheel driven platform. This gives the car a more substantial, pointed and capable feel (not so much in the snow perhaps) over the A3 and Golf which are of course, front wheel drive.
The 114d Sport has different driving modes, as do many cars these days. The driving modes can be selected to return better fuel economy or slightly more ‘get up and go’ performance – ranging from Eco to Sport Plus. I spent most of my time with the car in Sport mode which offers the driver a little more throttle response, a firmer ride and most importantly, a less artificial steering experience. In Eco and Comfort modes there is very little weight in the power steering which is over-servoed and something we have to live with these days, but is easily remedied by flicking the car into Sport mode. Something I feel the car lacks is an Individual setting, much like on the Golf MK 7. As you may be able to guess, the Individual driving mode on the Golf allows the driver to tailor the car’s performance to their preferences. This would therefore allow weightier steering and a slightly firmer ride but with the benefits of maximum fuel efficiency.
Economically, the 114d does very well on fuel. I intended to use the fuel I had put into the car before handing it back so had to rely on a heavy right foot. Even with some boisterous behaviour in Sport Plus and sitting in mild traffic I still returned an MPG reading of 42.9.
Inside, the 1 Series has a rather conservative dashboard layout. The steering wheel controls and the iDrive control unit take care of the entertainment management. The buttons for adjusting the climate control and the radio station selection remain which leave the cabin looking simple, yet elegant. Ergonomically, the iDrive screen and buttons which are presented are driver-focused in an angular fashion which is both stylish and convenient. The car had a ‘Keyless Go’ system and the Start/Stop button is located to the left of the steering wheel, just above the driver’s left leg.
Materials used within the cabin are as to be expected – high quality. There are no cheap, scratchy plastics and the dashboard/door card materials are soft touch which look premium and will age well. The harder plastics, found on the dashboard surrounding the CD player and above the glove compartment still do not lack quality. The dash’ trim on the passenger side is Piano Black which looks great (dust and fingerprints aside) with a satin red strip below. There is also a flash of red in the contrasting stitching on the steering wheel which also adds to the sporty appearance of the interior. That is of course, if you happened to miss the aluminium door sill trims. It is a nicely designed interior, yet I could not seem to find a comfortable corner in the driver’s seat. I felt I was never sitting at the right height – lower the seat and I was too low, move the seat back and add more height and I was too far away. I’m not entirely sure what that was all about, maybe I didn’t spend enough time optimising my driving position.
Overall, the BMW 114d Sport is a nice car to drive – smooth and solid with a superior weightier composure over the front wheel drive competitors. Underpowered though the motor is, it makes sense to the buyer with a desire for a slice of the elite to use everyday in their short commute to work. To be a good motorway tool, I am afraid you will have to opt for the bigger engines. Yes, the engine in this car will happily and effortlessly sit in sixth gear making your bank manager happy with regards to the returned fuel consumption but merging and overtaking is a bit of a nuisance. For me, the money which would have been spent on the 114d with a few toys would buy you a very nice and needless to say, more powerful Golf MK 7.
With Thanks to BMW Cooper Sunderland
Engine Size: 1.6 litre, in-line four, 16 valve
Top Speed: 115 mph
Power: 95 bhp @ 4000 rpm
Torque: 235 lbs ft @ 1500-2750 rpm
Transmission: Six speed manual
Driven Wheels: Rear
0-62 mph: 12.2 seconds
Length: 4324 mm
Width: 1765 mm
Height: 1421 mm
Kerb Weight: 1390 kg
List Price: £21,510
Star Rating: * * *